Girls volleyball: Wala, Fremd too powerful for Palatine
When it comes to serving, Claudia Wala is well grounded.
And it sure serves her well.
Fremd's powerful middle blocker connected for 6 of the host Vikings' 13 aces in a 25-13, 25-19 Mid-Suburban West girls volleyball victory over crosstown rival Palatine on Tuesday night.
"You can do it (serve) from the floor," said Vikings assistant coach Nick Vassos, who was filling in for head coach Curt Pinley. "You don't have to be the one who sits back on the line and tosses the ball 50 feet in the air, then come down and crunch it like some players. Claudia is proof of that. She is not up there whaling on the ball. She is just a good, consistent server (16-of-16 on Tuesday). You add power as you get more control. A lot of players just want the power right away."
" I just focus on control over power," said Wala (3 kills), who along with almost all the other Vikings' starters were at a club volleyball tourney when Palatine won the first match 26-24, 25-19.
"It was hard missing that match but now that we're back, it's so much fun to play with my teammates again and to see the Palatine players."
Fremd fans got to see the explosive offense that helped the Vikings reach the Class 4A state finals in 2019. Juniors Rylen Reid (9 kills, 4 aces), Rian Baker (4 kills, 79-of-80 setting with 18 assists, 1 ace) and Samantha Gump (5 kills) were among the leaders.
After her own kill gave Fremd a 5-2 lead in Set 1, Wala stepped to the service line and didn't leave until her team led 11-3. Her streak included 4 aces (3 in a row) that made it 10-2. Deme Yianas and Izzy Segoviano also had aces for Fremd (4-2, 4-2).
A tight set at the net from Baker led to a big blast by Reid before Palatine ended the rally on one of Kendall Friel's 3 kills. Kylee Stammer and Jill Smith (6 digs) led the Pirates (4-2, 4-2) with 4 kills while Erin McGinn also had 3. Allison Drake handed out 10 assists.
"I thought Kylee had a nice match in the middle," said Pirates coach Dan Gavin. "She is a weapon we have to use a little more. Typically she is going to be a good matchup against other middles, She is fast and athletic but we have to work as a team to get her the ball a little more and I think that will take some pressure off our pins.
"Obviously, Fremd is a very talented team. They put a lot of pressure on your serve receive and your defense. They really make you execute for the whole match. Balls don't go down easily on their side. They don't make a ton of errors."
"We did a lot of good things tonight," Vassos added. "We came out a little sloppy in Set 2 but cleaned it up and we were able to get other players in the match and they stepped up and made a difference."
Just like Wala made a difference at the service line.
"Looking back over the years, Claudia has been one of our toughest servers," Vassos said. "She has always been someone who we can depend on to go back there and serve aggressively and get us a few points. She is definitely even better this season and hopefully we are in the same position with her this fall season."