Girls volleyball: Krammer, Benet knock off Glenbard West
Kirsten Krammer is a legacy student at Benet Academy.
As the third family member to attend the private school in Lisle, Krammer is aiming to make her own mark.
She's already accomplished her goal in one aspect -- playing on the volleyball team.
The junior outside hitter is the first member of her family to play for Brad Baker's prestigious program, which has won four Class 4A state championships since 2011, most recently in 2019.
"I always wanted to come to (Benet)," Krammer said. "That was the dream. Two of my older sisters came here. They didn't play (volleyball) here. They're not as tall as me."
Krammer played a key role in Wednesday's 25-17, 25-20 victory over Glenbard West in Lisle. She had an early kill to start a rally to give the Redwings (19-3) a slight cushion in the first set.
Caelin Abramic led a balanced Benet attack with 5 kills, while Ava Novak and Caroline Carens each had 4 kills. Krammer and Anna Eschenbach both had 3 kills.
The 5-foot-10 Krammer delivered back-to-back kills early in the second set to pad the lead to 6-2, which the Redwings never relinquished despite a late surge by the Hilltoppers (18-8).
Compared to most of her teammates, Krammer had a late start to her volleyball career. She began playing recreational volleyball in fifth grade, but waited until eighth grade to play club volleyball.
As one of several new faces on the Redwings, Krammer said she's thrilled to be a contributor for a program with big expectations.
"I was on the junior varsity in the spring, so it's so exciting to be on varsity," she said. "I love playing with all the girls. I'm so excited to be a part of the team. It's been so fun. It feels incredible. Everyone is so good on this team. I'm so happy I can help the team in whatever way I can."
Baker said he inserted Krammer into the starting lineup in late September due to her versatility.
"We're doing some stuff with our blocking, so Kirsten is able to play both pins," Baker said. "We need somebody to play both pins, outside and right-side. She can do that for us, which helps us be more dynamic with our defense."
The Redwings had a few moments where it looked like they would relinquish the lead, but managed to take advantage of a few hitting errors by the Hilltoppers to pull out an two-set victory.
"We're definitely trending in the right direction," Baker said. "I'm not sure tonight we showed that. This definitely wasn't our 'A' game, but Glenbard West had a lot to do with that by putting pressure on us. When you don't play great, can you still stay with it? Early in the season, we had a couple of matches where we faltered, so it's good when you don't play your best but can work through it and still win."
Carens, a junior, is among the wave of first-year varsity players starting to get adjusted to playing vital minutes against high-level competition, such as the Hilltoppers. She had 2 key kills midway in the first set to help the Redwings seize a 17-8 lead.
Carens said the Redwings were weary of the Hilltoppers, who defeated Montini on Aug. 28. The Redwings lost to Montini in two sets in the same tournament.
"I'm starting to get comfortable," Carens said. "We knew we had to compete hard against (Glenbard West). We were making it our game, bring the energy and customize it to us. At this point, we're still in trials, but slowly and surely we're finding our stride."
Glenbard West coach Peter Mastandrea said his team is struggling with consistency after losing an emotional match to Oak Park-River Forest on Tuesday.
"We ran into a good team, but we wanted to schedule Benet because it will help us get better," he said. "We've just run into some tough losses of late. We're playing hard, but we have to execute better. I like my team, and where we're at. Right now, we're just in a little bit of a rut. I thought Marin Johnson had a good game. She's been playing really well, and had a few nice swings today."