Girls volleyball: St. Francis sweeps Glenbard South

Only one team walked off the court with a victory Saturday afternoon, but both St. Francis and Glenbard South did come away with plenty of positives.

The host Spartans, who started a trio of freshmen, swept the Raiders 25-7, 25-21 in a match that saw some talented seniors doing their best to get everything out of this unusual final prep season, along with plenty of flashes of talent from the youngsters.

For Glenbard South, there was a lot of fight in the second set from a young team looking for its first victory. After falling behind big early in the opener, the Raiders (0-6) trailed just 18-14 in the second set following a kill by senior middle blocker Alex Wilharm, who had three kills and three blocks in the match. Coco Stachnik also gave the team a boost with three kills after the libero was forced to make the switch to the outside for her short-handed squad.

In the end, however, the Spartans' strong seniors and talented newcomers led the way to a sweep that evens the team's record at 3-3. Seniors Katlyn Sipes and Claire Connelly were sharp on defense, with the Seattle University recruit Sipes recording nine digs. Fellow seniors Olivia Hojnicki (six kills) and Jennifer Garritty (seven assists, two aces) had big impacts, while freshmen KK Dumpit, Shay McMillen and Anna Paquette all made big contributions.

"Our senior defense anchors us with Katlyn at libero and Claire as the other DS (defensive specialist). That certainly helps us with our youth in the front row," St. Francis coach Lisa Ston said. "I have not had what I had anticipated being my starting six here yet."

Between injuries, club ball conflicts and spring break, all schools have had a hard time with lineups this spring. The Raiders were missing two regulars Saturday.

"We're still trying to prepare ourselves for the conference teams. We've got a young team with just one senior out there," Raiders coach Chad Grant said. "We're missing kids today and we're trying different lineups, but it isn't just us. It's happening to everybody."

That said, the team's finish sure made Grant feel better than the first set.

"That second set was probably our best set of volleyball so far this year," he said. "Alex Wilharm's blocking presence, that is huge for us. She really brought some life to our team in that second set and brings us confidence. She's doing a great job."

Sipes is just glad to close out her prep career with any type of a season and adds that mentoring so many newcomers has been rewarding.

"We're all really excited to get an actual season even if it is shorter," the libero said. "I think by the end of this season we're going to be great, but we're really just happy to a have a season. I think it's just fun to watch our young team grow together."

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