After a tough and intense three-set loss at Fremd on Tuesday, Palatine's girls volleyball team was looking to regain some momentum on Saturday.
The Pirates regrouped nicely and took second place at the Sandy Pifer Invite held at Prospect High School in Mt. Prospect.
Palatine and South Elgin each went 4-1 in the six-team event played in the Jean Walker Field House and a back gym.
The Storm's 25-18, 25-13 win over Palatine settled the tiebreaker for first place.
McHenry (3-2) was third followed by Maine East (3-2), Prospect (1-4) and Lake Park (0-5).
Palatine (11-6) earned its fourth win in the invite with a 25-18, 19-25, 15-13 win over Lake Park.
Senior Amanda DiLeo's ace made it 14-12 and moments later junior Haley Holz and senior Beverly Ryan went up for a double block for the 15th point that gave Palatine an 11-6 record.
"That loss to Fremd really drove us," said DiLeo, who has committed to play volleyball and study to be a dietitian at Kean University in, Union, N.J. "We had some ups and downs but we all played together as a team. We were always positive which really helped us."
Holz and sophomore teammate Emily Campe were named to the all-tournament team.
"I thought Emily had a really nice day," said Pirates coach Dan Gavin. "When we were in system and the ball was there, she did a great job of terminating plays."
Gavin used Holz as right side hitter in the tourney.
"That's something she hasn't done a lot and it really helped us," he said. "When you take a kid that talented and that willing to stretch her comfort zone, I think that goes a long ways toward building some trust and camaraderie in the team."
With the switch, Gavin was trying to shore up the Pirates' blocking.
"I think it helped with our backcourt positioning and having a little more consistency back there," he added. "And I think the byproduct was creating more offensive opportunities for Emily, Bev (Ryan) and even Haley."
Ryan, who has committed to play volleyball at Illinois Wesleyan, also played a key role in the Pirates' success on Saturday.
"She had a huge impact with her blocking and her offense is starting to round into shape," Gavin said. "That second part has a direct correlation to what our backcourt, particularly Katie Lindert and Amanda Delio, is starting to due in terms of creating offensive opportunities for our hitters.
"Without those two working to get us in system, the Haleys, Emily's and Bev's of the world don't get their chances to terminate plays."
Allison Aldag was the senior setter getting the ball to the terminators.
"Allison had a rough week and half where she went through some growing pains," Gavin said. "She is a high character kid and it's fun see her come out on the other side of that and have a great day today."
Gavin is hoping the 4 wins steer the Pirates in the right direction.
"I told the girls we didn't let 1 or 2 point runs by our opponent turn into 5- or 6-point runs," he said. "That's kind of been the difference in our results.
"Hopefully we are changing that a little bit and finding ways to win these matches. That's part of youth and growing up. Those are lessons that sometimes you have to learn the hard way before things start panning out for you."
The host Knights (5-12) were led on attack by Emma Cogan (23 kills), Sloane Petlak (22), Meghan Meredith (21), Grace Cacini (20) and Colleen Palczynski (9) while Meredith led with 7 blocks.
Gianna Russo served a team-high 5 aces followed by Valerie Thomas (4) and Mia Farraday (3).
Russo handed out 41 assists and Sarah Skaggs 28.
All-tourney selection Thomas collected 60 digs.
"It's taking time but we're getting there," said Prospect coach Laura Gerber.
South Elgin made history by winning its first invite title in the 13-year history of the program.
"It feels good," said Joni Plach, the program's only head coach. "It's our homecoming, too, so you never know how the girls are going to play on homecoming day."
"They (Storm) played really well," said Gerber, whose team got to within 23-21 in Set 2 against South Elgin before falling (25-23, 25-21). "They're a nice team with seven seniors which helps. They play real well all-around, have a big block and smart hitters. They deserved to win it."