Girls volleyball: It's a green light to the Elite Eight for Fremd
Let's just say Fremd's girls volleyball team hit another green light on its road through the Class 4A state girls volleyball tournament.
Playing in Wednesday's Sweet 16 match, the No. 3-seed Vikings limited No. 4 Glenbrook South to 16 points twice en route to a 25-16, 23-25, 25-16 victory for the championship of the Maine East sectional in Park Ridge.
Last week, the Vikings got a special visit from former Hoffman Estates multisport athlete Alex Wulbecker, now a mental health counselor for Loyola University's Wellness Center.
"She talked to us about staying in the green zone," said Fremd senior Breslin Reid. "Green is your calm zone, you stay calm and just do things together as a team.
"I think that was really big for us because we all wrote something green on our hands or wrists. I even have things written on my shoes that were green."
Now the Mid-Suburban League champions (35-4) will try to write another winning chapter to their storybook season on Friday when they host Libertyville (30-9) in their own supersectional at 6 p.m.
The Vikings came out strong on Wednesday, building a 23-14 lead while never trailing in the first set.
In fact, Fremd never trailed in the second set until an ace by Emma Almburg put the Titans (26-12) in front 23-22.
"I think that (the green zone) made a real big impact on us coming out in that first set and just really pouncing on them," Breslin Reid added. "Our keyword this whole season has been staying calm and when she (Wulbecker) really stressed that to us it was perfect. And we did a really good job staying calm in this match."
The Vikings showed that when they hardly seemed fazed by falling late in the second set by taking a 4-1 lead in the third set.
"I think we really pulled together after that second set," said Vikings libero Izzy Segoviano (9 digs). "Coach (Curt Pinley) said we were kind of in the yellow zone for a while, where you have a few nerves and are uncertain of yourself.
"But we found a way to get ourselves back in the green zone by really working as a team."
Sophomore Rylen Reid worked her swing in its normal dominating fashion, putting down a match-high 16 kills while her sister Breslen put down eight.
They took their cues from sophomore setter Rian Baker, who handed out 25 assists and served 5 aces along with 8 digs.
"We saw four tapes on them, so we knew what they were going to do," said Titans coach Kelly Dorn. "That No. 13 (Rylen Reid, who also had 13 digs and 2 aces), only a sophomore, is a stud. We knew she was their main hitter and that No. 4 (Breslen Reid) was their secondary hitter and that their setter (Rian Baker) was very active. We practiced for it.
"I think we had a higher error percentage than in most of our matches and I don't know if that was nerves or what. But we're not used to having errors. Honestly, we just played a tough team. Fremd played a great match."
Pinley couldn't disagree.
"I thought we played a fantastic match tonight," said Pinley, the winner of 503 girls matches. "Glenbrook South had an incredible hitter on the outside (senior Kendall Smith who put down 11 kills). They run their slide and they are well coached.
"But I thought we came in tonight with a little extra energy and probably played one of our best matches of the season."
Claudia Wala added 3 blocks for the Vikings while Breslin Reid had two as Fremd won its third sectional in program history (1987 under Dave Boze and 2008 under Pinley).
"I know Rylen led us in kills but everyone at some point had a real nice defensive dig or good serve receive. We were serving them in, and aggressively when we needed to," Pinley said. "I think we just had a real good balanced game."
And perhaps an assist goes to the Vikes' guest speaker last week.
"We had her come in talk to the team about where we needed to be mentally as we moved through the tournament," Pinley said. "And we were able to use words like green and yellow, and it made a big difference because I think there were times we were able to calm down a bit and take that breath and refocus."