Girls volleyball: Hersey tops Meadows to grab lead in East
With 15 straight volleyball titles in the Mid-Suburban East, Hersey's girls have become quite familiar with playing as the division leader.
And that's exactly where the Huskies will play in their next conference match after taking sole possession in the East with a 25-21, 25-17 triumph over Rolling Meadows on Thursday night at their own Carter Gymnasium in Arlington Heights.
"It's exciting," said Kati Kaburov, who excited the Hersey fan base with her match-high 12 kills. "They were 2-0 and we were 2-0 so it's a really big win for us. Our chemistry was really good and that's really important in having a successful team."
Kaburov took her cues from setters Alessia Olhava (9 assists) and Kaiya Eshoo (6 assists).
Five other Huskies contributed kills, including three from Nora Zielke and two apiece from Eshoo and Olhava. Juliette van den Herik and Janine Boyan each had one.
"There were a lot of long rallies and I think the key for us is that we were really fighting hard and going after every ball," said Kaburov, a Boston College recruit who also had 4 digs and 2 aces. "I love to win. I hope we can win the MSL again."
The Huskies won Set 1 after breaking a 17-17 tie with a side out kill by Kaburov and then four straight service points from the explosive junior.
Meadows rallied to within 22-21 behind three straight service points from setter Natalie Klancnik (11 assists).
But Hersey (9-3, 3-0) answered when Kaburov put down a kill off a Meadows block, followed by two service points from senior Lauren Solans.
"It was a little close in that first game," said Olhava, who also had 4 digs, "But we picked it up. I think our communication was the biggest thing. Our energy was a little low in the first set but we picked it up in the second set when everything came together."
Meadows (9-8, 2-1) led 8-7 in Set 2 but Hersey gained the lead for good with seven straight points, including a block by Boyan and kills from Zielke and Eshoo for the 14-8 cushion.
Meadows drew to within 3 points on back-to -back blocks by Ashlyn Ryan to make it 20-17.
Kaburov then took over, putting down a side out kill followed by four straight service points, including an ace, to end the match.
"We knew coming into the match that Meadows had a nice team," said Hersey coach Nancy Lill. "They're middles are solid. Their blocking is solid. Their setting is nice and they've got some nice hitters."
First-year coach Katie Stensland's top hitters were Elise Kowalski (6 kills), Eleanor Errico (4 kills), Caroline Slowik (2 kills) and Leticia Avellaneda (2 kills).
"Katie is doing a great job with that team," Lill said. "I really respect them. We served really tough tonight which is what we wanted to do to -- keep their middle hitters out of their offense. We missed a few more serves than we would have liked but we still served very tough. I was happy with how we played."
Solans (12-of-12, 1 ace) and Kaburov (10-of-10, 2 aces) did not miss a serve while Eshoo was 8-of-9 with 5 aces.
Sophomore Maddie Mullin led the Huskies' back row with 6 digs.
Avellaneda served 2 aces for Meadows while Maggie Goodwin and Sophia Salemi each had one. Salemi led the back row with 11 digs.
"I thought our defense and Sophia did a real nice job," Stensland said. "Elise (Kowalski) did a really nice job passing. She got some kills and some big points. Eleanor (Errico) needs to be involved more but in order for that to happen our passing has to pick up."
Stensland called the match a 'big' learning experience for her team.
"We could not stay in system with our passing and we weren't able to run our middles enough," she said. "So our passing just needs to pick up so we can continue to stay in system. When we are in system, we do a real nice job and we're able to run all our options. Now we can go back into the gym and kind of figure out what we need to fix and what we need work on. And then we can come back and be ready to go."