Girls volleyball: St. Charles North tops Rosary in season opener
The last time St. Charles North took the volleyball court the North Stars were finishing off the best season in school history by taking fourth place in the 2017 Class 4A state tournament at Illinois State University.
The North Stars returned to action Monday night at Rosary missing several of the key graduated players from their state team.
Luckily for coach Lindsey Hawkins, she still has two standouts from that team, senior Division I players GiGi Crescenzo and Katie Lanz.
Lanz, headed to UNC-Wilmington, and the Memphis-bound Crescenzo led St. Charles North to a 25-16, 25-15 season-opening victory.
Lanz put down 5 kills in the opening set while Crescenzo landed 3 in each.
"For the first match I think it was good, especially how we had people switching in and out and I feel everyone who came in played their role on the court," Lanz said. "I felt like we all gelled well."
Hawkins knows exactly what she has in Crescenzo and Lanz so it was the performance of players like junior setter Kyla Lannert and senior middle Brigid McCarthy that encouraged her.
"GiGi is very used to this and nothing phases that girl. nothing gets her rattled," Hawkins said. "I think the big challenge this year is to get the other pieces of the puzzle, and people are stepping up in big ways. Kyla is dishing the ball everywhere it needs to go and running a phenomenal offense. Brigid is bringing the energy and leading our team and getting some really good kills too."
Rosary (0-1) took a couple brief leads in the first set, the final one at 3-2 on an ace from junior libero Sarah Konovodoff.
Lannert set sophomore Cailey Johns for a kill that put the North Stars up 5-3. Rosary coach Bill Allen called his two timeouts down 8-4 and 12-6 as the Royals made 8 attack errors and missed 4 serves in the opening set.
"We have some things to work on," Allen said. "St. Charles North is a good school. They came in well-polished. But we had some good stuff happen out there."
One of those plays came on a block from middle Molly Mulvey that drew the Royals within 13-7 before North surged again. A 6-point service run from Ashley Bruns made it 22-13, and the North Stars sealed the set when Rosary served into the net.
Rosary's only lead in the second set came on Caylee Sharkey's block on the first point. Once again, St. Charles North quickly pulled ahead with back-to-back kills from McCarthy making it 9-2.
A kill from Lauren Ringness capped the longest rally of the night and gave the North Stars a 20-10 lead. Ringness also put away match point.
"I thought we had first-game jitters at first and had a lot of errors that their level of play is above the errors we made at first," Hawkins said. "But they got it together. Our team, much like last year's team, is constantly supporting each other so the fact our bench is always engaged and always cheering helps get rid of some of those first-game jitters because they know when they mess up they just look to the girls and it's all good. That helps a lot."