Stevenson comes back to top Hersey
The conventional wisdom on Stevenson's girls volleyball team is if you stop powerful junior Jori Radtke, you have a decent shot at beating the Patriots.
But as Stevenson approaches the 20-win mark already this fall, there might be some problems with that kind of logic.
Senior Isabella Milejczyk, too, can really pound that volleyball.
Stevenson's opponent on Monday was 12-game winner, Hersey. And the Huskies have their own special player in Elizabeth Fuerst.
"Liz is one of the best players in the state,'' said Hersey coach Nancy Lill. "She can do it all."
Fuerst and the Huskies prevailed in set one, and Hersey took a 17-14 lead in set two.
That was the extent of the good news for Hersey.
Milejczyk had a game-high 13 kills, and Radtke had 10 to help Stevenson (19-4) rally past the Huskies 21-25, 27-25, 25-17 in a nonconference matchup in Lincolnshire.
Yes, there is some recent history between these two teams, as Milejczyk explained.
"We beat them in the regional last year,'' Milejczyk said. "And we were the seventh seed and they were a second seed. I think they were out for blood in this match. And in that first set, we didn't have our normal energy."
Milejczyk was quick to credit the Pats' setter on this night. Fellow senior Corrisa Kurth notched 29 assists in the three-set win.
"We've really connected,'' Milejczyk said. "We run a quicker ball. Corrissa is so good."
Hersey (12-5) took advantage of some Stevenson mistakes to open a quick lead to start the match. On back-to-back kills from Amy Morgan, the Hersey lead was 22-19.
"Hersey was playing well,'' said Stevenson coach Tim Crow. "They were tooling our block and getting us out of system. They are also a good serving team."
On some stirring kills from Fuerst (10 kills), Hersey ripped off a quick 7-3 lead in set two.
"We are a young group,'' Lill said. "And we are getting better."
Maybe it was a Milejczyk serving ace that turned set two around. That followed a kill from her to tighten things up late. Another Milejczyk kill knotted the second set at 25-25.
"We have two really good ones,'' Crow said of Milejczyk and Radtke. "They have been great all season for us."
After securing the second set, Stevenson didn't waste the opportunity in the decisive third set. On back-to-back kills from setter Kurth and Radtke, the Pats jumped out front in the third set.
The Huskies stayed close late in the third set. A serving ace from defensive specialist Emma Frankiewicz cut the Pats' lead to 15-13.
"This was a battle,'' Lill said. "It was a great experience for us. We really should have won it in two."
Stevenson took control at the end. Milejczyk had 2 more kills in the rally.
"We all played together last year,'' she said. "Our chemistry is a lot better this year."
Stevenson's Jordan Taborek added 6 kills, and her libero teammate Morgan Berland had 17 digs.
Morgan and Zoe Strozewski had 5 kills each for Hersey. Frankiewicz had 18 digs and Fuerst added 10 digs.