Lovin loves the challenge at Prospect

Updated 8/28/2014 10:58 PM
  • Prospect's Mary Mazurek sets as teammate Brenda Kendziera backs her up on Thursday against visiting Loyola Academy.

      Prospect's Mary Mazurek sets as teammate Brenda Kendziera backs her up on Thursday against visiting Loyola Academy. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Prospect's Rachel Grippo goes after a loose ball against Loyola Academy at Prospect on Thursday.

      Prospect's Rachel Grippo goes after a loose ball against Loyola Academy at Prospect on Thursday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

As a standout volleyball player at Prospect High School in the early 2000s, Gabrielle Cottrell Lovin played under coach Mike Riedy.

"I learned a lot from him," Lovin said. "He always pushed me to be a better athlete."

Little did Lovin know at the time she would one day replace Riedy as the girls head coach at Prospect.

When Riedy stepped down after 20 seasons to spend more time with his family, Lovin received the job at her alma mater.

"I always dreamed about it but I never expected it," said Lovin, who is also the school's second all-time leading scorer in basketball (1,304 points) and played at Division I Manhattan College in Riverdale N.Y. "But's it's an honor.

"Basketball and volleyball were my two sports, with basketball kind of my No. 1 passion. But we had so much fun in volleyball and that's what I am trying to portray to these girls. I want to instill in them that hard work combined with fun can equal success."

The Knights (1-1), who dropped a two-game nonconference match (25-19, 25-17) to Loyola at the Jean Walker Field House on Thursday, are having plenty of fun with their new leader.

"We love coach Lovin," said senior middle hitter Catherine Sherwood, who like Lovin also stars in basketball. "She really relates to us because she is so young and she went to school here.

"She has already taught us so much and it's only been two weeks. She clicks really well with the team and we love her."

Sitting alongside Lovin is former Prospect volleyball, basketball and track standout Molly May Klein (Illinois Wesleyan graduate), who is serving as an assistant coach.

While at Prospect, Lovin and Klein played basketball for retired coach Mike Nocella, who showed up at Thursday's match to see his two former stars.

Lovin also served an assistant coach for Nocella when he coached at Hoffman Estates in recent years.

"It's so cool to have them (Lovin and Klein) here," added Sherwood, who is planning to compete in track and field for college. "They were both stars here and they're names are all over the records board for everything.

"I really look up to them as role models and I hope that can be me one day."

Sophomore Kaeli Myers led the Knights with 6 kills on Thursday while Sherwood had 3. Michelle Haaning handed out 9 assists and Sarah Cutaia collected 4 digs with 9 passes on serve receive.

"It was one of those matches where our mental game hurt us," Sherwood said. "We made mistakes. We weren't a cohesive unit. We didn't have a lot of energy. If we get that up, good things will happen in the future."

Lovin said the Knights were their own worst enemy.

"It was our mental game, we beat ourselves," Lovin said. "That's the hard part for us to swallow. We have to become 100 percent mentally aware every match and unfortunately we didn't bring that this time."

Loyola (2-0) was led by 6-foot-2 junior Christina Reed's 7 kills while junior setter Katie Randolph, a three-year starter, handed out 20 assists.

Third-year Ramblers coach Mark Chang was not thrilled about his team's serving.

"That's what it came down to," he said. "We missed 8 serves and had 6 aces. For my standards and Loyola standards, that's unacceptable.

"The girls know if we get that down, we'll be OK. We always want to be at least even with our missed serves and ace, if not more aces. And that was not the case this match."

Fremd d Vernon Hills: Lane Hindenburg (9 kills) and Hope Schroeder (4) led the Vikings in their season-opening 25-23, 25-19 nonconference win in Palatine.

Buffalo Grove d. Lake Zurich: Visiting Buffalo Grove won its season opener 25-23, 25-17 behind the offense of senior Monica Browne (8 kills, 3 assists), junior Dana Stutzman (6 kills) and senior Katelyn Sommers (4 kills, 2 aces). Setter Marie Georgoulis handed out 17 assists.

Larkin d. Hoffman Estates: Junior Marielle Lugo had 3 kills and senior setter Kaitlyn Imbugia 5 assists in the Hawks' 25-11, 26-24 nonconference loss at Larkin (1-3).

Maine South d. Rolling Meadows: Hannah Mickey, Nora Rasche and Maddie Sellergren each had 4 kills for the Mustangs (0-2) in a 25-20, 25-18 nonconference loss in Park Ridge.

Lake Park d Conant: Lake Park won the nonconference match 25-27 18-25 in Roselle.

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