Girls volleyball: St. Viator scores statement win over Marist
St. Viator had a tall task going into Tuesday's East Suburban Catholic Conference girls volleyball match against state power Marist, ranked No. 5 in the Class 4A MaxPreps state poll.
But the host Lions came out roaring, taking an 8-0 lead, and never trailed in either set of a 25-13, 25-19 triumph over the Class 4A 2018 and 2019 IHSA state champion which left the Cahill Gymnasium with a 14-5 record and their first loss in the ESCC (3-1).
"That was amazing," said Lions coach Charlie Curtin, whose club is ranked No. 9 in Class 3A and handed recent No. 1 Crystal Lake South (14-1) its only loss of the season last Saturday at the Sandy Pifer Invite at Prospect.
Also at the tourney, Lions senior setter Cailyn Harrington (21 assists vs. Marist) recorded her 1,000 assist in her three-year varsity career and was honored after the match on Tuesday.
"She is absolutely incredible," said classmate Marie Torosian, who helped the Lions to their incredible win with a match-high 11 kills. "She is the backbone of this team. We couldn't do it without her. This is the first time in history we have beat Marist. We are part of something special."
"I'm so happy for this win and I love all my teammates," said Harrington, whose brother Brennan, the Lions' boys volleyball coach, also had more than 1,000 assists as a player for St. Viator (graduated in 2013 and was the Daily Herald Northwest Suburbs all-area boys captain that year).
"I couldn't have done it without every person on the bench, every hitter, every passer. "
They were all clicking for the Lions, who improved to 20-3 and are now also 3-1 in the ESCC.
Senior Lilly LaFleur added 6 kills for the winners followed by junior Marcelina Gorny (5) and senior Lauren Allaire (4). Junior libero Reanne Valera and Allaire each added 9 digs while Gorny had 6.
"Our blocking was unbelievable (LaFleur and junior Louisa Battin led with 4 apiece while Torosian and Gorny each had 1)," Curtin said. "And our aggressive serving (Valera and Torosian each had 2 aces and Harrington 1). We kept them out of their system and just kept attacking all the time. Marist is an unbelievable program and (RedHawks coach) Jordan (Vidovic) always has them ready to play."
The Red Hawks played without Western Michigan recruit Maryclaire Brusek (MB who is team's leading attacker and blocker) and setter Kennedy Conrad, also a college prospect. The two seniors are both injured.
"No excuses (because of injuries)," Vidovic said. "When you lose by as much as we did, you can't really think about things like that. Maryclaire is a big presence for us so it is tough mentally to know she isn't out there. That's a lot of points we that we didn't get elsewhere."
After the 8-0 lead in Set 1, Marist never got closer than 7 points. In Set 2, the hosts drew away 15-8. They led 22-19 when Harrington set Gorny for 3 straight kills to end the match.
"It was unbelievable, spectacular," said Curtin of the Lions' first win over a top five state-ranked team. "I'm so proud of these girls. They came out and executed our plans perfectly. It just shows their dedication, effort and the love for the game they have.
"Just the way they reacted after the match showed how monumental this win was for them. We had the lead the entire time. A couple of times (Marist) went on 2, 3 or 4-point runs. But we just told the girls to take a deep breath and take it one point at a time."