Girls volleyball: Two more wins for unbeaten Libertyville

By Bill McLean
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 4/3/2021 6:13 PM

If Libertyville's girls volleyball parents look mighty young these days, it's because they must feel like teens all over again.

They're in charge, after all, of coming up with fun fan themes for home matches -- something students did in pre-pandemic seasons. For the spring opener the parents got dressed from head to toe in orange for "Orange Out" night. Then they out-Honolulu-ed Honolulu in the number of leis adorned around necks in one setting on "Hawaiian Night."


Saturday morning, at the Libertyville triangular, it appeared mothers and fathers had raided a Jerry Garcia outlet store. The bleachers in the school's West gym resembled a small sea of gaudy "Grateful To Be A Wildcat" T-shirts on "Tie Dye Day."

They're might have been a few "Touch of Grey" fans/grandparents in attendance, too.

"Our parents are the best, incredibly supportive," Libertyville coach Greg Loika said after his club won two matches and the title.

"What our parents are doing this season is cool."

Libertyville (9-0) stayed hot, topping North Suburban Conference rival Lake Forest 20-25, 25-16, 25-14 in the tourney finale of an event that would have been a quad had Carmel Catholic been available for action.

"Our varsity girls volleyball team is on a pause at this time," Carmel athletic director Mark Pos noted via an email. "We hope to be playing again on April 12."

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Loika's crew downed Grayslake Central 17-25, 25-20, 25-12 in the triangular's opener Saturday morning.

The Wildcats' potent roster features nine seniors, including Colorado College recruits Kaylie Stuteville, a middle hitter, and Kellie Hopper, an outside hitter. Hopper hammered a match-high 9 kills versus Lake Forest (5-2), and the creative Stuteville (10 tourney kills, 3 blocks in the finale) solved blocking schemes all morning with her array of attacks.

"Our experience can be intimidating for opponents," Hopper said on Easter Eve. "I liked our consistency and fluidity, especially after we adjusted following that first set against Lake Forest, got momentum and then kept momentum on our side."

Libertyville sophomore middle hitter Keira Kasten -- another "Killer K" in the fold, with Stuteville, Hopper and junior middle hitter Kelly Hutchins -- amassed 12 kills in the opener and pounded 6 more (to go with 5 blocks) in a rematch with the Scouts, who had fallen to the Wildcats in straight sets in a regular-season test.

Libertyville senior libero Olivia Sauers had a superb morning, totaling 46 digs in 6 sets and delivering zippy, hard-to-field serves that barely cleared the net. Classmate and outside hitter Ella Schaffnit finished with 28 digs and 13 kills, and junior setter Grace Bonjour lofted a team-high 36 assists; senior setter Larisa Slesers contributed 22 assists.


Wildcats junior defensive specialist Grace Comilla smacked a team-best 6 aces.

Libertyville used an 8-0 run early in the second set against Lake Forest to reduce set one to a distant memory. Loika's rejuvenated bunch took a 4-0 lead in the clinching set and never trailed the Scouts and Santa Clara-bound outside hitter Caroline Graham.

Lake Forest was in it late, down only 17-11. But a kill by Stuteville bruised the top of the net's tape and trickled cruelly to an open spot on the floor, widening the advantage to 19-11. The second of back-to-back attacks by Schaffnit secured a 23-14 lead for the hosts.

"When we're passing well," Loika said, "we're tough to stop."

What he'd like to end: Libertyville's slow starts.

"You can't do that against excellent teams," Loika said. "It allowed Lake Forest to be aggressive from the service line. Adjusting our blocking schemes (in the second and third sets) helped us. We served tough, too."

Grayslake Central lost 25-21, 25-18 to the Scouts in its second match Saturday morning. Rams senior libero Cailin Hawn played inspired volleyball in both contests, flying atop hardwood often and accruing almost as many floor burns and she did digs (30).

"Cailin," Rams' coach Arian Colton said, "never lets up. There are some points where you find yourself wondering, 'How did she get to that ball?' "

Junior outside hitter Megan Grampo paced the Rams (2-3) with 7 kills in their opener, while senior middle Micaela O'Halleran had 6.

Hawn planned to color countless eggs Saturday afternoon.

"I dive and dye," she cracked.

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