Glenbard West sharp vs. Willowbrook

The Glenbard West girls volleyball program has a lot going on these next several days, and it kicked off the hectic stretch with a solid effort Monday night.

The 18-4 Hilltoppers have a key West Suburban Silver battle with York on Tuesday, and a charity contest "Rally for a Cure - Spike MS" on Oct. 8. But first they welcomed a 13-2 Willowbrook squad to Glen Ellyn and played well in a 25-13, 25-15 sweep of the Warriors.

Glenbard West jumped out to big leads in each game - 20-8 in the opener and 21-6 in the nightcap - before finishing off the Warriors.

"I'm looking forward to York tomorrow, which is huge for our conference," junior setter Kate Wagner said.

"I just think our serving, hitting, like everything was pretty solid overall. Everyone just did their job, and the energy was very high. We don't want to lose in our home gym."

While Willowbrook coach Susan Bower respects the Hilltoppers program immensely, she didn't feel her players came out at their best on a Monday following homecoming weekend.

"We just didn't have the energy and the focus that we normally do. Maybe it's something they need to work on and push a little harder," said Bower, whose team was paced by Danielle McNamara's 4 kills. "I wish we could have competed a little bit better and we know we can. But this might be a good learning experience for us."

It was a not a good night for the visitors to be off their game a bit, not while the Hilltoppers just happened to be sharp.

"These past couple of weeks we have been really working as a team more, " Hilltoppers standout outside hitter Natalie Schilling said. "Getting our rotations together and flowing as a team. We've been working a lot on limiting our unforced errors."

Schilling, who had a match-high 11 kills on Monday, led a balanced attack that saw Patricia Stirb and Alison Burelbach each add 5 kills. Wagner, a third-year varsity player, had 21 assists against Willowbrook.

"We had a problem with that early this season and we had a lot of hitting errors," Schilling added of the early-season miscues. "I think we've been minimizing those and it makes it a lot easier to get ahead and keep our lead."

Strong defense doesn't hurt matters either, and Burelbach had 9 digs and Abbey Matre 8 in the sweep of the Warriors. Kelly Conley did her best to keep plays alive for the Warriors with 11 digs.

"We played well. We've been playing well and we considered this a big one," said Glenbard West coach Pete Mastandrea, whose daughter Anne is getting married this weekend and will then line up across from the Hilltoppers as the Glenbard North coach in next week's charity event to raise money to help fight multiple sclerosis. "We respect the heck out of Willowbrook and I like the way we played."

  Glenbard West's Natalie Schilling pounds one past Willowbrook's Danielle McNamara during girls volleyball action in Glen Ellyn Monday night. Mark Black/
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