Girls volleyball: Maine West downs Elk Grove in Feyerer's coaching debut
With a few first-year varsity players, and a first-year varsity coach, Maine West's girls volleyball team was the first to score 25 points twice in its season opener on Monday night in Des Plaines.
The Warriors' 25-15, 25-22 decision over Elk Grove made former New Trier and James Madison University standout Nora Feyerer a winner in her first match as a head coach in high school.
Two girls who have been in high school only two weeks showed promising futures for a young Maine West squad that did not have a senior starter.
Freshman Daria Szczepura served the final 6 points of Set 1 and the final point of Set 2 while her classmate Jaclyn Riedl put down some clutch kills, including a crosscourt blast which made it 24-22 in Set 2.
Szczepura then served the match winner which came on junior Bailey Cassidy's block of an overpass.
"Our libero (Szczepura had some really great serving -- she did wonderful for us," Feyerer said. "She is only a freshman so she still has a lot of work but she has a lot of potential. We are excited with what she did this match and we feel the sky is the limit for her and for Jaclyn, our other freshman."
Sophomore Viviana Ramirez put down 5 kills for West while classmate Clare Olson ran the offense.
"Even though we are young, I think we can still do really well," said junior Krista Block (3 kills), a co-captain with Cassidy. "We have some girls who have been on the varsity before and they are helping the new girls. And our new coaches (Feyerer is assisted by Ally Kent) are especially helping everyone."
The Warriors rallied from 4-point deficits in each set (6-2 in the first and 9-5 in the second).
"Whenever we are down, we always just try to bring everyone up by sending positive thoughts," Block said. "We're saying 'hey, you got the next one,' and we're always trying to move on from the last play and trying to get the next one."
Feyerer was proud of how her young Warriors responded in their season debut.
"We played really well," she said. "Our goal was to get a little better and make minimal errors and I think we did that. Even in the second set, when we made a few mistakes, we didn't let that stop us. We kept persevering and finishing the match."
Kaitlin Ingebrigsten and Lili Duckmann each finished with 5 kills for Elk Grove. Paige Langston handed out 8 assists and Alissa Kurczak served an ace.
Senior libero Megan Murray controlled the back row with 13 digs.
"I was really happy with Megan Murray," said Elk Grove coach Stephanie Kezios. "Our expectations are obviously high for her this season and I was very impressed by her serve receive and leadership. She really took control in the backcourt which is what we need her to do this season."
West was trailing 8-7 in Set 1 when Szczepura served 8 straight points (2 aces) to give her team the lead for good.
"I felt we were in Set 1 and then clearly let the nerves get the best of us," Kezios said. "I was very proud of our girls' effort and their ability to just hang in there in the second set.
"But you have to give a lot of credit to Maine West. They wouldn't let us go on any runs and I was impressed by their effort."
Block said the Warriors are impressed by their new mentor.
"She is really knowledgeable about the game," Block aid. "And she is always there to help us. When we do something wrong, she knows exactly how to fix it."