Girls volleyball: Collectively, Buffalo Grove is taking the lead
For the first time in six seasons directing the Buffalo Grove girls volleyball program, coach Matt Priban did not appoint captains.
It's leadership by committee --and so far, so good.
The Bison are off to their best start in Priban's tenure, going 6-3 after Tuesday's 25-10, 25-14 triumph over visiting Hoffman Estates in the Mid-Suburban League crossover.
"We chose this year not to have captains in order for everyone to step and be captains themselves," said senior libero Riley Cross, who stepped up with 4 digs and 2 aces in the two-set win. "And I think that has really benefitted us. Some of the younger girls are stepping up, and the seniors as usual. It's a lot of fun this year."
The Bison really started having fun in the first set when they opened up an 11-4 lead behind three straight points from Cross. The points came on an ace and 2 kills from her classmate Mary Nowlan, who had 5 for the match and a pair of blocks.
"Mary has been coming through in the middle with a lot of nice swings," Priban said. "She is finding the spots on the court to get a lot of kills. Nicole Langer (also a senior) played only one set but she was swinging real well from the outside."
Junior Lauren Horvath also had 5 kills for BG while classmate Claire Ferriss added 4.
"It's been an awesome start," said Nowlan, who was on the junior varsity last fall. "We've been playing well together, with lots of energy and team bonding. It's nice to have a rebound season from a year ago. A lot of us played together on the JV last year so we know how to work together."
Junior Nina Masciopinto was working her serve in fine fashion when she reeled off 6 straight points, including an ace, for a 20-6 Bison cushion. The big run included 2 kills from Ferriss.
Junior setter Maggie Strecket, who collected 20 assists, served for the final 2 points of the set.
Set 2 was knotted at 6-6 when the Bison surged ahead 10-6, getting back-to-back kills from Nowlan, a kill from senior Sasha Rozhko and an ace by junior Kristen Belias.
Senior Olivia Morini, Ferriss and Streckert also had aces for BG, which extended the lead to 16-9 on 5 straight service points from Masciopinto.
Cross, the only Bison with 2 aces, got her second to end the match.
"Our defense has definitely improved from last year," Cross said. "We are much more consistent and we are working hard."
"Our goal right now to keep getting experience," Priban said. "We've got some new faces this year so we're getting them on the court and into a rhythm. That has been a big part of the process.
"Our back row has been doing a real nice job with serve receive. They've been stepping up, moving really well in the back row getting passes up to get our offense going."
Hoffman's offense was led by Janiah Fowler (3 kills, 2 blocks). Patricia Wadas had 2 blocks while U'daria Smith served 3 aces.
"We've got a mix of young kids and older kids," said Hawks coach Dan Hutton whose club is 0-6. "It's a long season so they're getting used to each other. There's no reason to get to nervous. When good things happen, they've just got to learn to ride that wave and not get too down on themselves."
Hutton said the Hawks blocking improved from their performance at the Peggy Scholten Classic.
"That was a big emphasis after last weekend," he said. "So they did a good job coming out and fixing the thing they had to fix."
Sophomore Ashley Poland collected 13 digs
"Ashley was getting a lot of touches in the back row," Hutton said. "And Kathleen (Guesco) did a great job setting. Our other setter (Joanna Mulica) wasn't here so Kathleen had to step into a leadership role and did a great job.
"We're still trying to figure out things with a lot of differences kids playing different positions. They're young enough to learn and listen. And Buffalo Grove played a good match.