Girls volleyball: Scouting the MSL championship

Updated 10/18/2017 4:51 PM

Girls volleyball: Scouting the Mid-Suburban League championship

Hersey (23-6) at Fremd (21-8) When: 7 p.m. Thursday


Where: Fremd High School Gymnasium in Palatine

Last year: The same two teams met for the title. Fremd won 25-23, 25-20 at the Ken Carter Gymnasium in Arlington Heights.

History: The 45th edition of the Mid-Suburban League championship finds Hersey playing in its 23rd title match, 21 under current coach Nancy Lill -- who has 919 career wins in 30 seasons with the girls team (she is also the Hersey boys volleyball coach).

The Huskies have won 11 crowns (10 under Lill), including five of the last nine. They have won the East the last 15 seasons.

Hersey's 11 titles are tied for the most with Barrington (11).

Fremd is making its fifth appearance in the title match, fourth under current coach Curt Pinley, who has 433 wins in 20 seasons with the girls program (he is also Fremd's boys volleyball coach)

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Pinley's 1999 team and 2009 teams lost to Hersey in the title match before defeating Hersey for the program's first MSL crown.

Dave Boze also directed the Vikings to two title matches, with losses to Rolling Meadows in 1989 and 1995.

How they got here: Hersey advanced to the title match with a 10-0 record. Fremd shared the West title with Schaumburg (both teams were 8-2) but earned the title game berth due to the tiebreaker rule (point differential in head-to-head matches).

The rosters -- Hersey: Ellie Fahey (5-9 Sr. S), Amy Morgan (5-8 Sr. OH), Emma Strozewski (5-11 Sr. S), Julia Coniglio (5-7 Sr. DS), Alessia Olhava (5-8 Jr. S-OH), Kati Kaburov (5-10 So. OH), Hayley Martin (5-9 Sr. OH-RH-MH), Molly Twohig (5-9 Sr. DS), Kaiya Eshoo (5-7 So. S), Juliette Vandenherick (6-0 So. MH), Janine Boyan (6-0 So. MH), Patty Tomaszkiewicz (5-10 Sr. MH-RH), Katie Moreno (5-6 Jr. DS), Cate Gudaitis (5-11 Jr. MH), Nicole Anderson (5-10 Jr. RH-OH). Fremd: Sarah Straup (Sr. S), Heidi Sayre (Jr. OH), Sam Smith (Sr. DS), Jess Rizzo (Sr. OH), Jess Mazur (Sr. MH), Galina Martin (Jr. OH), Maddie Aichinger (So. DS), Breslen Reid (So. OH), Jules Tangney (Jr. MH), Lydia Vanderark (So. S), Grace Grubb (Jr. OH), Peyton Hooker (Jr. OH)

The keys: "Consistency will be the key to winning this match," said Hersey coach Nancy Lill. "In this environment, the team that passes well and minimizes unforced errors usually wins. Our goal is to play aggressively, stay focused and enjoy the match."


Fremd coach Curt Pinley agrees: "I know Hersey will always bring that kind of consistency in its game and we have to make sure we stay within our gameplan. We have been able to stay in a lot of our matches this season because we played as a team, and that will play out as an important factor in the success we have in this match."

Lill on Fremd: "Fremd had an outstanding team last year. Although they graduated many of their top players they still have Jessica Rizzo and Jessica Mazur as well as solid setting and defense. Curt has done a great job with his team and they have had an excellent season."

Pinley on Hersey: "Any time you are going up against a program that is 10-0 and has won its division 15 years in row, you know they come in with an attitude and a little bit of swagger. We have to realize that. They have earned all that respect and we definitely respect it. Nancy does a great job with her program and team. Any time her teams come to your home court, you have to be ready for a heck of a contest."

Experience factor: "Kati Kaburov (10 kills in the match last year), Amy Morgan, Emma Strozewski, Julia Coniglio and Alessia Olhava have all been on the floor in at least one conference championship, some multiple," Lill said. "Hopefully, that experience helps our team in this match."

"Jess Rizzo and Jees Mazur were both part of this match last year," Pinley said. "And we have other girls who were involved in the match."

Home court: "The home court helps, but obviously once you begin playing a team the caliber of Hersey that factor becomes quickly neutralized," Pinley said. "We want to repeat what we did last year and as for Hersey, I don't know if it's the revenge factor, but they'll want to come back and win against us."

"We hope to overcome their homecourt advantage," Lill said. "Fremd beat us on our home court last year and ended our season during the playoffs. Our team is excited to have this opportunity to play them. It should be a great match."

-- John Leusch

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