Benet rises to another level

One fan watching Benet on Saturday suggested “they’re like a college team.”

The Redwings sure played at another level.

No. 2 Benet capped a dominating march through the Mizuno Cup with a 25-16, 25-12 win over No. 7 St. Charles East in the championship match at Great Lakes Volleyball Center in Aurora.

Benet (24-3), which won its third tournament, won all three Saturday matches in straight sets. In only one did an opponent score more than 16 points.

“We played well as a team this weekend,” said Benet’s Jenna Jendryk, who had 12 kills and 3 blocks in the championship, “and we just trusted ourselves more. We don’t like the feeling of losing. We wanted to come out and win.”

St. Charles East (24-4) might wonder how Benet has lost a match.

The Redwings rolled over the Saints 25-18, 25-20 in the season-opening match. Saturday was more of the same. St. Charles East came in riding a 13-match winning streak, beating two-time defending tournament champion Joliet Catholic 25-21, 25-21 in the semifinals.

“I wish we would have played better that last match,” Saints coach Jennie Kull said, “but I’m so pleased with how my girls played this tournament. It’s our first loss in a long time, so it’s back to humbling.”

Benet beat No. 9 Barrington 25-9, 25-15 and Leon (Fla.) 25-13, 25-21 to advance to the championship. St. Charles East was within 9-8 in the first set after a Nicole Woods kill, but from there Benet snapped off an 8-1 run.

Maddie Haggerty had 3 kills and a block during the stretch, one of 5 Redwings blocks in the set.

Benet didn’t waste time erasing the sting of a Thursday-night loss to Marist in three sets, a match in which the Redwings won the first set 25-13.

“The girls played with a sense of pride,” Benet coach Brad Baker said. “Over the last week and a half they knew they hadn’t played their best. They wanted to come out today and make sure that they were.”

Benet juggled its back-row lineup a bit before the tournament, moving junior Sheila Doyle to libero. The changes seemed to work.

“We’re just trying to get a different rhythm,” Baker said. “It was the same people playing; we just mixed up the order a little.”

Jendryk, who had 21 kills against St. Charles East last year in an epic three-set Mizuno semifinal, put on another show in Saturday’s second set.

She threw down 6 of her match-high 12 kills, her crosscourt smash expanding Benet’s lead to 16-8. A Jendryk kill made it 21-11, and on two straight rallies Jendryk blocked Saints standout Meghan Niski. Another Jendryk kill made it 24-12, setting up Meghan Haggerty’s kill for the match.

“(Jendryk) played lights-out,” Kull said. “They are a great team. You have to play flawless to beat that team, and we just didn’t have it.”

Niski had 6 kills for St. Charles East, but all of them came in the first set as Benet threw an imposing double block her way.

“We tried to make her work a lot this match,” Baker said, “Make her work before she got the hit so she wouldn’t get free runs at the ball.”

Woods had 5 kills and and Katherine Dailey 3 kills for St. Charles East.

Maddie Haggerty had 6 kills, Meghan Haggerty 4 kills and 6 blocks and Hannah Kaminsky 25 assists for Benet, which committed just 8 errors for the match.

No. 8 Hinsdale South lost to Joliet Catholic for the second time this season, 25-17, 25-21 in Saturday’s quarterfinal match.

The Hornets bounced back in impressive fashion, beating Lincoln-Way East 25-7, 25-20 and Edwardsville 25-17, 25-18 for fifth place.

The last win avenged the Hornets’ supersectional loss to Edwardsville last year — although the Tigers were without Purdue-bound outside Samantha Epenesa and setter Mackenzie Collins. They didn’t make the trip Saturday because both were in their school’s Homecoming court.

“One player doesn’t make all the difference. We controlled that match,” Hinsdale South coach Lisa Martinez said. “We looked way better and much more relaxed than that first match.”

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.