Girls volleyball: Benet shines again at Scholastic Cup
Benet Academy senior libero Hattie Monson is no stranger to tournament volleyball.
Participating in her fourth St. Charles East Scholastic Cup tournament, Monson, a 4-year varsity starter, helped lead her team to their third title in four seasons as the Redwings defeated Minooka, 25-9, 28-26, in the Gold bracket championship Saturday afternoon at the Great Lakes Volleyball Center in Aurora.
Senior Colleen McGuire recorded 5 of her team's 8 service aces in the opening set before the Redwings fell behind at the outset in the second set.
Trailing Minooka 6-1 and 19-14 at one point, Benet (28-0) still found itself behind 20-16 before a spirited late rally.
First, senior outside hitter Sophie Gregus (4 kills) slammed a crosscourt kill to make it 20-17 before a Minooka hitting error narrowed the gap to 20-18.
A kill from senior Desiree Anderson extended Minooka's lead to 22-19 before back-to-back passing and hitting miscues allowed the Redwings to pull within 22-21.
Maeve Nelligan's block of the Indians' Holly Kropke tied the set at 22-22, and middle Olivia Gonnella's kill put the Redwings in front, 23-22.
Minooka fought off a pair of match points, tying the score at 24-24 on consecutive kills from Hailey Sperling.
Moments later, Minooka grabbed the lead at 26-25 following a putdown from 6-foot-3 junior outside hitter Heidi Bonde.
"She's really good," Benet coach Brad Baker said of Bonde. "She presents some different problems that other outsides don't because of her size. We tried to manage her the best way we could."
McGuire's team-leading sixth kill of the match tied it at 26-26 before a Minooka hitting error and Kyla Kenney's kill sealed the decision for the Redwings.
"They put a lot of pressure on you in different ways -- they're a good team," Baker said of Minooka, which knocked off Benet in the tourney's championship match in 2017.
The Redwings relied on a balanced attack, fueled by Rachel Muisenga (20 assists, 2 kills), Ann Marie Remmes (2 kills), Kenney (5 kills), McGuire, Gregus and floor leader Monson (6 digs).
"Coming in, we knew that this was going to be a key point in our season because it's more than halfway (over)," said Monson. "And we knew that Minooka was going to be a tough team.
"We like playing against big hitters. We knew they were going to get kills -- we just had to prepare for that. I think we just keep getting better every day. Our mental state is really good right now."
Baker echoed similar sentiments.
"When you're in these moments, can you still play as a team -- can you manage to fight through?" said Baker. "If you can't, then you don't win close matches like this. We talk about that all the time."
Waubonsie Valley outlasted Geneva, 28-30, 25-18, 25-16, to take fifth place in the Gold bracket while Neuqua Valley captured the Silver title with a straight-set win (25-18, 25-22) over St. Charles East.
"We had some great spurts of really high-level volleyball but I don't think we played that well consistently," said Geneva coach Annie Seitelman.
"I saw some good things today but we still have some things to work on before postseason hits."
Geneva, off to a 5-0 start in DuKane Conference play, has a pair of conference matches remaining -- Tuesday vs. Lake Park and Oct. 22 at Glenbard North.