Glenbard West good, but not good enough — yet

Glenbard West is getting closer to the level of the area’s best volleyball teams.

Hilltoppers coach Pete Mastandrea won’t accept close, though.

The previously unbeaten and 17th-ranked Hilltoppers pushed No. 14 Hinsdale Central to three sets before falling 25-14, 23-25, 25-23 on Tuesday in Hinsdale.

Glenbard West (12-1) stormed back from 15-7 down in the second set to force a third set that featured 16 ties and no margin greater than 2 points.

“We’re a young team, and I’m sure they’ll come back because they’re resilient,” said Mastandrea, who starts just two seniors. “I’m disappointed, though. Not in my girls but in how we played tonight.”

Hinsdale Central (4-4) hung on to win its second match without injured setter Meghan McDowell. An MRI on the ankle of the 6-foot-3 senior committed to Virginia revealed torn ligaments, an injury originally suffered in gym class last spring. Her return this season is uncertain.

Fortunately, current Red Devils setter Ellie Vankeirsbilck has run a 5-1 for Hinsdale Central in the past.

“Injuries have been our issue since the start of the season,” Red Devils coach Sheralynn Kellough said. “We’ve only had five actual days of practice or competition where we had all 12 players healthy and on the court. I am happy with the progress I’ve seen in the last week.”

The Red Devils dominated the first set, runs of 7-1 and 6-1 putting away Glenbard West. When a serve by Hindale Central’s Vankeirsbilck that looked to be going long caromed off a Glenbard West defender for an ace, the Red Devils looked en route to an easy win up 15-7 in the second.

“We just get so tight,” Mastandrea said. “We were out of character in Game 1. That stretch right there is the worst volleyball we’ve played all year.”

But Glenbard West came out of a timeout with a 10-3 run, tied it at 20-20 on a Red Devils hitting error and eventually took the set with a Charlotte Karp block and a Karp crosscourt kill at set point.

“Glenbard West played lights-out defense,” Kellough said, “and I do think we relaxed a little bit.”

In the third set the two teams played to ties for points 9-20, until a kill by Hinsdale Central ’s Katie Grabowski off a Hilltoppers block pushed the Red Devils ahead for good 21-20.

Michigan-bound outside Ally Davis had 14 kills, 13 digs and 3 aces for Hinsdale Central, Dominique Millett 7 kills and Grabowski 6 kills.

“We’ve had a rocky start to the season,” Davis said. “We did really well in the summer, but then I was injured for a while and came back and now our setter’s injured. Everybody knows they have to pick up some of the slack.”

Caleigh Ryan had 27 assists, Karp 7 kills and 6 blocks and Megan Wagner 8 kills for Glenbard West. The Hilltoppers had been 4-0 in three-set matches coming in, including a win over Metea Valley in the Joliet Invite championship game Saturday.

“I thought we had a little edge there,” Mastandrea said, “but we just didn’t make the plays down the stretch.

“I can’t be more excited about our future. I do see us closing the gap.”

  Ally Davis of Hinsdale Central fires one past Charlotte Karp of Glenbard West during girls varsity volleyball in Hinsdale. Mark Black/
  Megan Wagner of Glenbard West works on getting one past Emily Grasso and Lucy Crofton of Hinsdale Central during Red Hawks win over the Hill Toppers. Mark Black/
  Charlotte Karp of Glenbard West looks to fire one past Lucy Crofton of Hinsdale Central in girls varsity volleyball action at Hinsdale. Mark Black/