Girls volleyball: Addison Trail handles Maine East
Between sets of the Addison Trail-Maine East girls volleyball game Wednesday night the song 'Let's Work Together,' a golden oldie from the group Canned Heat, rang out from the Blue Demons' public address system.
That could have been the theme for the visiting Blazers, and maybe for the entire upcoming season.
Addison Trail put forth a strong effort of teamwork in Park Ridge to defeat the home-standing Blue Demons 25-15, 25-15.
"We have really good team chemistry this year," said AT senior setter Amy Reyes, who contributed 32 assists to the win. "It's been building since the summer and it just keeps getting better and better every day."
Reyes is one of six seniors on the Blazers' roster.
"Team chemistry -- we talked about it after our first match (a win over Lake Park) yesterday," said AT coach Dan Styler. "It's absolutely a bright spot for us this year. A lot of these girls have been playing together since they were young and that shines through with the camaraderie on the floor."
Senior outside Katrina Bielanski led the Blazers on attack with 9 kills, while the stellar hitting and all-around play of Chris Kotsifas paced Maine East.
"I saw positives out there today," said Demons coach Rintu Philip. "We have some strong seniors coming back this year -- Chris is one of our most experienced players, and a leader.
"Our setter (Emma Matic) was running around making all the right decisions tonight, our second-string outside hitter (Suad Hussein) was coming out and swinging which was great to see. We have some new kids and we're giving them the opportunity to step up."
Maine East started the match off on the right foot when Mahima Chokshi served an ace on the very first point, and the initial set was tied at 5-5 after Matic set Chokshi for a kill.
Then Addison Trail (2-0) strung together a couple of long runs. AT extended the advantage to 10-5 on the service of libero Pauline Wirbicki, then after a side out, Mia Johnson served up 7 straight points, led by the hitting of junior Ally Severino.
A late kill from Bielanski helped put Set 1 in the Blazers' column.
"We started slow tonight," said Severino. "(Between sets) we talked about keeping the energy up and about not getting down on ourselves if we miss something -- just do better the next time."
AT started fast in the second set and built a large early lead, but Maine East (0-2) fought back to draw within 18-14.
Then Severino got the Blazers going again with a kill from the middle, and AT scored 7 of the game's final 8 points -- with the match-winning effort coming on a dig by Wirbicki, a perfect set from Reyes and a winner from Severino.
Severino, Nicole Bartosik, and Wirbicki excelled for AT at the service line with 2 aces apiece.
"Today was just not a good serve receiving day for us," said Philip. "It all comes down to serve receive and if you can't pass you can't get the ball to your best players."
Senior Jess D'Ambrose finished with 12 digs and 6 kills for the Blazers.
"We just connect on and off the court," said Severino, continuing with the 'work together' mantra of the Blazers.
"Our goal this year is to go undefeated in conference and (to do that) we've got to keep practicing hard and pushing ourselves to our limit."