Girls volleyball: Bartlett wins 1st UEC title
Bartlett High School's girls sports programs have enjoyed plenty of success in the 24 years since the school opened.
Both the basketball and softball programs, for example, have taken second in state while filling their banners in the gymnasium with various regional, sectional and conference championship seasons.
Volleyball, however, has not reached that level, a blank banner hanging without a conference title in those past 24 seasons.
That changed Thursday. With a 25-9, 25-14 win at East Aurora, the Hawks shared the Upstate Eight Conference championship with Glenbard East at 8-1.
"It will be nice to look up at the number on the banner in the future," sophomore middle Bria Lomax said. "We have worked hard this season. This was our main objective, especially with the short season. We want to win conference. We want this and really worked toward this, so it feels really good."
Bartlett coach Robert Schwantz led the boys to the Upstate Eight crown in 2019 and now has a title for the girls. The Hawks have had some strong teams through the years but never a champion until Thursday.
"I've seen some really strong players come though and some good teams but no one has ever been able to finish it out," Schwantz said. "We are pretty excited. It's just an amazing team. It's just about building a young team and having them stay together. They are firing on all cylinders."
Bartlett (11-4, 8-1) looked like it would have to wait another season to get that elusive title when the Hawks lost last week to Glenbard East (10-4, 8-1).
But they got a second chance on Tuesday when Glenbard South upset the Rams in three sets.
"She's always got strong players coming through the program," Schwantz said of coach Marci Maier's Rams.
"She's always got 15 girls on her roster and they can all play. They always give us a good challenge."
Bartlett made the most of its second chance, taking a 9-0 lead in the first set and 6-0 in the second, both times thanks to strong serving from junior Madison Hankins. Neither set was in doubt.
"I told them just to play calm, don't worry about standings and all that stuff," Schwantz said. "The last time I did that against Glenbard East it didn't go well. They got too wound up and I put too much pressure on them."
Hankins helped take the pressure off with her serving to start the match, a run that included three aces. Lomax blocked a ball for a point, then took a set from Hankins and put down a kill to make it 9-0.
Lomax and Alayna Hawes, one of four seniors on the team, both had 5 kills. Hawes had the final one of the match, taking a back set from Hankins and finding a hole.
"It's well-deserved," Hawes said of the conference crown. "This was a fun game to go out on."
Libero Kirsten Munar, Lauren Wersching and Abigail Weithofer join Hawes as the four seniors. Hankins and Lomax will lead the players who will be back next fall to try to add more titles to the Hawks volleyball banner -- a group of returnees that also includes Jade Lindstrom, Klaudia Bartoszewicz and Madison Neer.
"I'm really excited for what the future holds," Schwantz said.
And pretty proud of the present, too.