Girls volleyball: Conant upends defending MSL champion Barrington

  • Conant's Gianna Spetka sets the ball as Barrington's Christina Copertino stands ready at the net during Wednesday's volleyball match in Hoffman Estates.

      Conant's Gianna Spetka sets the ball as Barrington's Christina Copertino stands ready at the net during Wednesday's volleyball match in Hoffman Estates. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Barrington's Morgan Buckner celebrates a kill during Wednesday's volleyball match at Conant.

      Barrington's Morgan Buckner celebrates a kill during Wednesday's volleyball match at Conant. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Barrington's Felicia Guagliardo sets the ball as Conant players including Natalie Jurgenson (8) get ready during Wednesday's volleyball match in Hoffman Estates.

      Barrington's Felicia Guagliardo sets the ball as Conant players including Natalie Jurgenson (8) get ready during Wednesday's volleyball match in Hoffman Estates. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Conant's Natalie Jurgenson leaps for a kill during Wednesday's home volleyball match against Barrington.

      Conant's Natalie Jurgenson leaps for a kill during Wednesday's home volleyball match against Barrington. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Conant's Jessica Sharp directs the ball over the net for a point against Barrington during Wednesday's volleyball match in Hoffman Estates.

      Conant's Jessica Sharp directs the ball over the net for a point against Barrington during Wednesday's volleyball match in Hoffman Estates. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Barrington's Noelle Daehler, right, tries to prevent Conant's Payton Litney from getting the ball over the net during Wednesday's volleyball match in Hoffman Estates.

      Barrington's Noelle Daehler, right, tries to prevent Conant's Payton Litney from getting the ball over the net during Wednesday's volleyball match in Hoffman Estates. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Conant's Jessica Sharp, right, and Payton Litney leap to block a ball hit by Barrington's Noelle Daehler during Wednesday's volleyball match in Hoffman Estates.

      Conant's Jessica Sharp, right, and Payton Litney leap to block a ball hit by Barrington's Noelle Daehler during Wednesday's volleyball match in Hoffman Estates. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 9/11/2019 10:23 PM

Now this was the way Yuri Hara wanted to start her senior season.

The four-year starting outside hitter for Conant's girls volleyball team had never been on a team that won its first match in the Mid-Suburban West until Wednesday night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

With Hara putting down a team-high 10 kills along with 8 digs and 3 aces, the Cougars outlasted defending MSL champion Barrington 25-23, 25-27, 25-23 in Hoffman Estates.

"This is amazing," Hara said. "It feels so great. I want to thank all my coaches at Conant because I've gotten to play all the matches for all four years."

"That No. 7 (Hara) is awesome," said Barrington coach Michelle Jakubowski. "She doesn't make any errors. She hits a great out-of-system ball. She makes that team.

"And they (Conant) play incredible defense. They've always been so scrappy and that's the part of the game we are battling to learn. If we make a few less errors, we are right there."

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The Fillies were rolling in Set 1 when they opened up an 18-10 lead but the Cougars (4-5) refused to give in.

They cut the deficit to 19-16 on 4 service points from Emma Bowman and then got to within 21-20 on a kill from junior Danielle Smith.

"Danielle Smith (4 kills, 3 blocks) stepped up and got some big kills and our back row was row was pretty locked in," said Cougars coach Drewann Pancratz. "Natalie Jurgenson (5 kills, 15 digs) and Yuri have always been our solid go-to girls but we had other people step up which was fun."

A kill by Chikere Oduocha gave Conant its first lead in the set at 22-21. Jurgenson's big back row kill made it 24-20. Sophomore Amanda Cleary put down a kill to get Barrington to within 24-23 before the Cougars won on an error.

Set 2 was tied 10 times, the last at 25.

A kill by 6-foot-2 freshman Campbell Paris and tip by Cleary gave the young visitors the set.

Cleary led Barrington with 10 kills while 5-10 freshman Jessica Horvath and 6-0 senior Noelle Daehler each had nine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Junior setters Felicia Guagliardo (17 assists) and Amelia Segaev (16 assists) ran the Fillies' offense.

"I think Jessica Horvath has done such a nice job," Jakubowski said. "She's been playing so solid and to come in as freshman and play six rotations is great. Our other freshman, Campbell, just gets better with time. She had 3 kills at the end of the match in big situations. And Amanda Cleary does a nice solid job playing great defense (6 digs)."

After a night that saw 21 ties (all in the final two sets), the Cougars broke the final one at 23-23 in the third.

Smith drove a kill and then a service point by freshman Gianna Spetka (8 assists, 2 aces) gave Conant the hard-fought win.

"Gianna served tough at set point in two of the three games," Pancratz said. "And Jessica Sharp (senior) stepped up a lot in middle for us. It's a good start in conference but it's only one step. We've got to keep working and keep improving."

"Our passing was good and our energy was up," Hara said. "And our setters (junior Payton Litney who had 20 assists and 12 digs) and Spetka) did a great job. When our passing wasn't good, they covered that."

Barrington's passing came from Arianna Armando (8 digs), Cleary (6) and Sarah Schorsch (5).

"I keep pushing my seniors to be a little more vocal," Jakubowski said. "I thought Sarah (Schorsch) did a nice job coming back after a missed serve in the first set and then serving us into the lead (13-9) in the second set with 5 straight points (including 3 aces). What a great mindset to do that and keep her team up. So I'm really proud of her for that."

The Fillies are now 3-5.

"It's a process," Jakubowski said. "We're still trying to get better for October and we still want to contend and try to defend out title in the MSL but we'll just take each match and try to get better and go from there."

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