Glenbard North's girls pored over their runner-up trophy proudly, only pausing to pose for pictures.
This first weekend was surely one to grow on.
The volleyball Panthers advanced to the final of the Willowbrook Invite, where they gave highly regarded Plainfield North all it could handle before falling 25-23, 25-22 on Saturday in Villa Park.
"We really came together as a team and played our hardest," said Panthers senior outside Stephanie Tobison, who had 4 kills and 6 digs in the final. "We put forth a great effort for our first tournament."
Plainfield North (11-1), considered among the top five teams in the Chicago area in the preseason, beat Glenbard North (3-3) 25-16, 25-18 in Friday pool play. The rematch was nip-and-tuck all the way. A block by Panthers sophomore Stephanie Cole pulled her team even at 18-18 in the first game, and a Tobison tip kill had Glenbard North within 24-23 before a net violation gave Plainfield North game point.
A Cole kill and Plainfield North net violation had Glenbard North ahead 17-14 in the second game, but Plainfield North from there strung together a quick 4-0 run. An ace by Plainfield North's Clemson-bound setter Kate Federico followed by Dakota Santore's 14th kill gave Plainfield North the lead for good at 24-22.
First-year Panthers coach Jenny Farinella appreciated her girls' fight.
"I'm really proud of the girls. They never gave up, even when they were down," Farinella said. "We have a young team, and I know (Plainfield North) is ranked very high. To play them so close, to lead for a good part of the match, that's a confidence booster going into conference."
Marissa Bettinger had 5 kills and 5 assists and Sarah Peters 8 digs for Glenbard North, which went 3-2 in the tournament, rallying past Willowbrook 14-25, 25-23, 25-20 to get to the final.
Plainfield North, whose only loss in the young season came in three games to Naperville North in the semifinals of the Plainfield North Invite last weekend, overcame 25 errors to win the title in its first year at Willowbrook.
"We weren't focused real well at first, but we pulled through," Federico said. "Our passing improved as the match wore on and our hitters knew what shots to run. Our coach always says it's difficult to beat the same team twice, but we knew where their weaknesses were and where to send the ball."
Addison Trail (3-5) beat Willowbrook in the third-place match 23-25, 26-24, 25-22. Willowbrook (4-2) won all three of its pool-play matches Friday before dropping two three-gamers Saturday.
"I think it's still our inexperience," said Willowbrook coach Sue Bower, who has just three seniors. "We know what we're supposed to do, we have the skill to do it, but it's mental mistakes. They have to believe in themselves. Just a few kinks to work out. They are competing."
Mia Railing and Maggie McNamara each had 24 kills, Danielle McNamara 16, Joanna Conley 55 digs and Kelsey Linnig 63 assists for the Warriors over the five matches.