Girls volleyball: Libertyville sets up road block against Stevenson

 
By Bill Pemstein
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/28/2016 8:56 PM
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Libertyville is in the driver's seat of the North Suburban Conference girls volleyball race.

Among the key passengers on that runaway bus are dynamite setter Anna Lillydahl, that smart blocker from Texas, Haley Stevenson, and a defensive star in the back row, Morgan O'Brien.

Wednesday's key NSC matchup took place at Stevenson on Wednesday night. The Patriots made a late run at the unbeaten-in-conference Wildcats, but the Cats (18-6, 5-0) prevailed in two sets 25-16, 25-21.

And oh goodness, did this Libertyville team block at the net. It wasn't pretty for the Patriots.

"We watched a lot of film on them,'' Lillydahl noted. "And we practiced so hard."

Lillydahl, dished out 16 assists, added 6 blocks and added 3 kills.

"We felt we were ready for this match,'' said Stevenson, a force at the net with 8 kills and 5 blocks.

The Patriots (21-5) never led in set one.

With Lauren Hall serving for Libertyville, the Cats took control. Hall registered 2 aces. Caroline Frea (5 kills, 5 blocks) notched a kill. Madi O'Brien joined in on the kill parade and Anna Valente (7 kills) notched a block as the Cats went up 13-7.

"We blocked well,'' said Libertyville coach Greg Loika. "And we kept the pressure on. We did a pretty good job with the game plan."

With Sam Albright serving, Libertyville pushed the lead to 21-12. Stevenson registered back-to-back kills. Lillydahl found an opening on the court for another kill.

Stevenson coach Tim Crow saluted the work of the Wildcats.

"It's nice to have good athletes with good length,'' Crow said. "We knew coming in that they would try to triple block us. And our serve reception was off tonight."

Set two started off as if the Cats would dominate another set. Valente notched another kill, and Libertyville's Stevenson again dominated at the net. It was 13-5 Libertyville.

With budding star Sophie Sorenson notching a few kills for the Patriots, the Libertyville lead started to shrink. In fact, the Pats grabbed a late lead at 17-16.

"We made some errors,'' Lillydahl said.

Stevenson, the blocker, gave credit to the home team.

"They played well," she said, "and made up some ground on us."

This time it was the libero, O'Brien, at the serving line for the Cats. Lillydahl notched a gorgeous kill to start the rally. Stevenson and Madi O'Brien (no relation to Morgan) also had kills. The Libertyville lead had been restored to 21-18.

Stevenson slugger Jori Radtke (8 kills) slammed down a kill to prevent the Cats from putting this set away before Lillydahl completed the two-set sweep with yet another kill.

Sorenson and Hope Havenhill both checked in with 3 kills each. Setter Alex Cuc had 13 assists for the Pats. Radtke led the defensive effort as well with 5 digs. Chloe Robinson (5 digs) and Sorenson (5 digs) also helped out.

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