Girls volleyball: Busy Stevenson nabs third at Niles West
Stevenson's girls volleyball team capped a run of 20 matches in 21 days on Saturday in Skokie.
The Patriots certainly used the busy early-season schedule to gain momentum for their North Suburban Conference schedule, which begins this week.
Led in the tourney on attack by Amanda Holsen (69 kills), Faith Cizzo (17), Michelle Gonchar (15), Sasha Evenko 14) and Allison Katnibikov (11), the Pats (13-7 after a 2-6 start) secured third place among 16 teams at the 16-team Niles West tournament with a 25-21, 22-25, 25-18 triumph over the host school (11-4).
It was the Pats' 11th win in their last 12 matches.
The third set was tied at 1 through 5 and again at 12 before Stevenson took the lead for good on an ace from Gonchar. Holsen then blasted a kill off an overpass of her own tip before a hitting error by the Wolves made it 15-12. Holsen put down another attack that was dug right back at her, which she converted into a kill for a 19-15 lead and the Wolves never got closer than 3 points.
"And we got other kids involved more offensively," Pats coach Tim Crow said. "It was good to see them scoring points for us. That's been an encouraging sign the last week or so. Amanda will do what she does, taking advantage of her opportunities, but the good thing is that everyone else is getting better, too. So that's exciting."
Brynn Smith, a 6-foot OH, is excited to be able to contribute.
"We had one starter missing for ACT testing and Brynn stepped in and played lights out," Crow said. "She filled in and did an awesome job on the right side. It was great to see her grow in confidence the last two matches."
"To be honest, at first it was super crazy being in this environment while starting off so young," Smith said. "But I have amazing teammates who have helped me and I love them all. They've really helped me get adjusted."'
The 6-foot junior Evenko recorded 3 solo blocks (9 for the tourney) against Joliet Catholic (three-set loss) in the semifinal.
"I feel like this tournament shows we can play well together and that we are a good team," Evenko said. "It's really the energy we have. We feed off each other and I feel that gives us the push to win."
Abby Minin (68 assists) and Lilli Wangard (48) handled the setting duties for Stevenson while Bayarmaa Bar-erdene collected 51 digs with 7 aces.
The Pats had won 10 in row until the loss to Joliet Catholic (12-3 with losses to Mother McAuley, Sandburg and Metea Valley), which took the championship with a 26-24, 25-15 win over Deerfield (17-2), whose only other loss was to Loyola.
Prospect's only loss in the tourney was to JC in its first match.
The Knights (5-4) went on to win four straight, including the fifth-place match over Maine West 25-13, 25-23.
A kill by Clare Olson got the Warriors (7-7) to within 24-23 in the decisive set before Alex Uemura put down the match-winner.
"We've come together as a team and come very far from where we started (1-3)," Uemura said. "We have a few things to clean up but I like the way we've progressed. After losing to Joliet Catholic, we cleaned up our serve receive and started running the middle and that really helped."
"Summer (Srodulski) did a nice job blocking both days and Cam Mather (back from an ankle injury) did a nice job," said Prospect coach Laura Gerber. "Her serve receiving was strong and made a huge difference for us. I thought we had good, smart decision making from our setters (Rachel Keil and Lauren Mueller). Collectively, we've made strong progress as a team."
Maine West was without its top hitter Viviana Ramirez (college testing) on Saturday.
"She is a huge part of our offense," said Warriors coach Nora Feyerer. "I thought we did a good job adapting to that. I was really happy getting second place in the second place bracket. It just took a little too long for us to get started and execute."
Wauconda (3-2 in the tourney), led on attack by sophomore Emily Lisi (44 kills), junior Delaney Lemay (26) and senior Bella Acosta (25), took seventh place with a two-set win over Buffalo Grove (4-10).
"I think we really did a good job of communicating this weekend," Lemay said. "We had a good connection on the court and we were happy overall with how we played."
"We have a wonderful outside hitter in Emily," said Bulldogs coach Sara Kawa. "She leads us in percentage and made only 11 errors in this tournament which is awesome."
Senior setter Amanda Lisi handed out 105 assists.
"Amanda has been wonderful for us," Kawa added. "She probably has the most hustle out of any of our girls. She works her butt off for us which is also awesome."