Girls volleyball: Bartlett wins key Upstate Eight match
With such an abbreviated girls volleyball schedule this spring, Bartlett's come-from-behind win over visiting West Chicago Tuesday night took on even more significance.
The Hawks rebounded from a 25-23 loss in the opening set to take the next two -- 25-21, 25-23 -- for a hard-fought victory that moves Bartlett (4-3, 3-0 in the Upstate Eight Conference) in front of West Chicago (5-2, 3-1) in the conference race.
With teams playing each other only once and no season-ending conference tournament like basketball, the Hawks put themselves in a good position by beating the previously first-place Wildcats.
Bartlett also reversed an earlier loss to West Chicago in a match the two schools scheduled last month as a nonconference contest.
"We definitely played better," Bartlett freshman Jade Lindstrom said of the second meeting. "It was a working team effort. We pushed through."
Lindstrom totaled 9 kills and 9 digs, joining a balanced effort that included Madison Hankins (9 digs, 20 assists, 2 aces), Alayna Hawes (8 kills, 2 aces), Kirsten Munar (21 digs) and Bria Lomax (9 kills).
Hawks coach Robert Schwantz said one of the main improvements his team made was keeping their shots in after 19 hitting errors the last time they played West Chicago.
"I knew what we had to do," Schwantz said. "We knew we had to clean up our swings and we did."
Bartlett only had 3 hitting errors in the opening set, but it was West Chicago that came through late after the score was tied at 18, 19, 20 and 22.
Freshman Ava Lowell gave the Wildcats a 23-22 lead with a kill, then served an ace. A kill by Hawes kept the Hawks alive down 24-23 before Bartlett served into the net on set point.
After 8 ties in the opening set, the tight match continued in the second set with 9 more ties including at 19-19 and 20-20. This time it was the Hawks who executed the key points, starting with back-to-back aces from Hawes for a 22-20 lead. A kill by Hankins put Bartlett up 24-21, then the Wildcats hit wide on the next point.
Bartlett completed the comeback in a third set that saw 8 more ties. West Chicago led as late as 23-22 on Kayla Sennese's ace; Bartlett responded with a tip winner from Lomax, and on match point the Wildcats hit the antenna.
"They gutted it out," Schwantz said. "That's what veteran teams do. I'm proud of them."
West Chicago coach Pamela Pater has a younger team that includes freshman setter Trinity Nelson (17 assists) and the freshman Lowell who had 5 kills, 4 aces and 5 digs.
"Ava, she's a little thing but she's jumping out of the gym," Pater said. "She works hard. She has great ball control."
Sennese added 5 kills, 3 aces and 7 digs for West Chicago who returns to action Thursday against Elgin.
"We are a young team but for having a couple weeks to prepare and play together they are doing great," Pater said. "They are gelling extremely well for only having a couple weeks.
"I'm very excited about (the future). We just have to mesh a little bit. We haven't had any sort of that team building. You come in, you practice, you leave. That's unfortunate but the kids are doing great. They are doing everything I'm asking of them."