Girls volleyball: Elischer, Palatine fly by Lake Zurich
Palatine's Sarah Elischer is generally known as a middle blocker who can put the ball away with her fine arm swing.
The 5-foot-9 senior also used her arm on Wednesday night to put away a match with her serve.
She enjoyed the best run of her high school career by delivering the final 15 points in the Pirates' 25-23, 25-9 nonconference girls volleyball win at Lake Zurich.
Combine her serving (3 aces) with her 4 kills and a block and it's easy to see why she earned high praise from Palatine coach Dan Gavin.
"Sarah did it all," he said. "She had a great match."
Elischer's performance hardly went unnoticed by her teammates.
"Sarah killed it," said classmate Sydney Wiebe, who had 4 kills and 5 digs. "She definitely carried us at the end. I'm so proud of my teammate. She really helped our team."
Senior setter Leah Salit (11 assists) served 3 straight points to give the Bears (6-20) a 4-0 lead in Set 2.
Wiebe's 3 straight points drew the visitors (13-7) back even at 4-4.
A kill by freshman Chelsea Williams got the Bears in front 7-5 but the Pirates led 10-9 when Elischer stepped to the service line for her dramatic finish.
The modest Pirate would only credit her teammates for her big streak of points.
"It was just the energy from the team and we had really good execution with everyone pulling in the same direction," Elischer said. "That really helped me with my serving."
As well as a ton of work during the offseason.
"I worked a lot on it during the club season and I focused on the drills we do at practice." said Elischer, who was not a regular server as a junior. "I was trying to be more consistent and getting the serves in my zones."
"She was great," Gavin said. "Sarah's execution in terms of the consistency of her serve, the aggressiveness and the location put a lot of pressure on them.
"And the people working alongside of her kept finding ways to give her more opportunities. A lot of times we've had servers get on runs and then we'll have a breakdown somewhere else so it was nice to see everyone else continue to execute and do their job."
The Pirates' attack did its job, getting a match-high 11 kills from Emily Campe. Karina Szafraniec added 5 kills and Jillian Smith 2. Allison Drake set the offense with 21 assists.
Campe (7 digs), Julie Garcia (6) and Drake (5) paced the back row.
"It was a balanced and focused team effort," Gavin said. "We focused a lot on executing and controlling our side of the court and I thought we did that very well."
On the Bears' side, it was Williams (5 kills), junior Rory O'Sullivan (3) and sophomore Jarynn Hartman (3) leading the attack.
Set 1 was tied eight times, the last at 22. That's when Drake lofted a 10-foot set to Campe for a kill followed by Szafraniec's ace for a 2-point lead.
Williams' kill made it 24-23 before Elischer put down the set winner off a quick set from Drake.
"Lake Zurich has some nice pieces," Gavin said. "I know they have some youth on their side of the net but when they put it together, there's no doubt they are a tough team. Their outside hitters have fast arms and they're going to be tough players."
"We're very young and inexperienced," said Bears coach Rachel Wiatrowski. "We don't have a lot of seniors on the court so we are just really rebuilding."