Girls volleyball: Glenbard West sweeps WW South
Sidelined by an injury during the second day of her team's annual volleyball invitational Sept. 17, Glenbard West junior Kaitlyn DuMerer could have, and maybe should have, missed even more matches.
With a heavily taped ankle, DuMerer was back as the Hilltoppers' starting setter for their next match three days later.
"I just think not putting it in my mind that I was injured really helped," DuMerer said. "I just kept pushing, did it for the team."
On Thursday DuMerer was at the center of another balanced offensive attack that carried the Hilltoppers to a 25-21, 25-19 victory over Wheaton Warrenville South to win the Class 4A Lake Park regional title in Roselle -- the Hilltoppers' sixth straight regional title.
Glenbard West (28-9), the No. 2 seed, returns home to play No. 3 Wheaton North (25-12) in the Glenbard West sectional semifinals Monday.
"It's really exciting my last season, being able to finish off with more games in Biester (Gym) and, hopefully, even more," said Hannah Brodner, the Hilltoppers' lone senior.
A strong junior class with third-year varsity players Ananda Patterson, Nina Crawford and Ellory Graff helps the Hilltoppers play beyond their years. DuMerer, however, was a reserve in 2016.
"I feel like it's a different experience (this season)," DuMerer said. "I really enjoy being part of the team and I just hope I can continue being with everyone."
DuMerer's 23 assists were distributed well with 7 kills by Patterson, 6 by Crawford and Graff and 5 by sophomore Virginia Curtis.
"Early in the year, I said how well this team progresses will be on (DuMerer's setting) and how she adjusts to the offense," Glenbard West coach Pete Mastandrea said. "She's done a great job. She's been a warrior."
The even younger No. 7 Tigers (14-18) were led by their two setters. Freshman Zayna Meyer had 7 kills and 9 assists and sophomore Sarah Burau had 11 assists and 5 kills. Sophomore Kaleigh Ammons had 6 blocks.
WW South took an early 8-4 lead, but serving streaks by Patterson and DuMerer quickly put the Hilltoppers ahead for good at 12-9.
"I expected them to jump out (ahead) because we were going to be so hyper, but (our players) settled in and played with confidence, which to me is important," Mastandrea said. "We're young, but we've got kids that should be playing like seniors. Seniors play with experience, confidence, they play with poise and that's what our kids did."
Brodner set the tone for the second game with 8 straight service points for a 9-0 advantage. The Tigers closed to 21-18 before a Crawford tip kill and DuMerer's third ace.
"We didn't continue to maintain that (strong start)," WW South coach Bill Schreier said. "We had a couple of things that didn't go our way and I think we started to second guess ourselves a little bit. In a regional championship you can't do that. You have to continue to play."
Last year's starting setter, Brodner has become an all-around contributor and emotional leader. Brodner and junior libero Katie Ryan each had 8 digs.
"The juniors with experience look up to me, but also I look up to them to help lead the team for the underclassmen especially and keep the team calm," Brodner said.
The Tigers also have a bright future. Libero Grace Buhmann, who had 11 digs, Brianne England and Hannah Joyce were the only seniors among the nine who played.
"I thought that we did compete. (It's) something to grow off of hopefully and continue to build as young as we are," Schreier said. "I think that's a positive experience for them to be in this match, to go ahead and see what playoff volleyball is all about."