Deerfield girls volleyball claims Libertyville tournament, remains undefeated
Deerfield's girls volleyball team not only came away with the Libertyville tournament championship on Saturday but the Warriors also left with its undefeated record intact.
After its 25-14, 25-11 triumph over Glenbrook South for the title, Deerfield stands at 7-0.
The Warriors lost just one set in its 5-0 tourney run, that coming in a 25-17, 20-25, 19-17 win over Libertyville on Friday night.
"This group has been just fantastic," said second-year Deerfield coach Jonathan Bolek, a 2011 graduate of Deerfield who played for his current assistant coach Eugene Chung. "We've got a good balance of veteran leadership and a lot of young talent coming up. Team serving and defense is what really won this tournament for us."
Runner-up Glenbrook South (5-2) went 3-2 in the tourney, defeating Wauconda 25-16, 27-26 in the semifinals.
"It's early in the season so it's nice to know the things we need to work on," Titans coach Kelly Dorn said. "Taylor Knoth (MB/OH) and our libero Abby Kuliga played real well. And there were important contributions from others in certain matches as well."
The Titans' other loss was to Vernon Hills. South was also second in the tourney two years ago, their two highest finishes in the event under Dorn.
Third place went to Glenbrook North (6-1, 4-1), thanks to a 25-14, 25-22 victory over Wauconda.
Senior libero Maddie Konopka helped ignite the defense, as the Spartans' only loss came to champion Deerfield.
"It was our first tournament so we kind of had some jitters on Friday but we played pretty well (Saturday)," Konopka said. "Our serve receive was the biggest aspect of our success. As libero, you try to make sure your serve receivers maintain their confidence because that is one part of the game that never goes away.
"This kind of sets the precedent that we can play with the taller teams. We are kind of a shorter team this season but it's really about serve receive, defense and ball control."
Spartans coach Tiffany Kim called it a "good way" for her team to begin the season.
"I would say we just didn't play well against Deerfield," Kim added. "A majority of the time it was our errors that were costing us.
Maddie did a great job because we need defense and serve receive and she did a great job with that. Everyone played their part.
Renee (St. John) and Ava (Spaniak) played every single set game and they're pretty much our go-to hitters."
The Bulldogs (4-3, 3-2), who placed fourth, were led on attack by sophomore Emily Lisi (34 kills), senior Bella Acosta (29) and senior Isabel Johnson (28).
"Isabel really stepped up for us," Wauconda coach Sarah Kawa said. She didn't even start out at outside hitter for us but after we put her there after our first set Friday she led us. She was a wonderful leader, very vocal and making sure her teammates were working hard. Emily was solid with a .217 hitting percentage. We moved her to right side and that really helped us with blocking. Amanda (Lisi), our setter, did a great job moving the ball around for us.
"I'm super excited about how we played against some really good teams. I'm happy with the level they played at. It got me excited for the rest of the season."
Warren (4-1, 4-3) took fifth place with a 25-18, 25-23 decision over Lakes, which earlier had posted its second win of the week over Libertyville.
The Blue Devils were led in the match by junior Lauren Shaw (10 kills, 2 aces), senior Kendal Crawford (6 kills, 3 aces, 4 digs), sophomore Ruth Ziegler (5 kills), junior Gabrielle Brewer (20 assists) and junior Lillie Zickert (6 digs).
"We've been switching the lineup with players in different positions so to finish out the tournament with two wins (on Saturday) is a good way to finish the tournament," said Warren coach Yun Chen, whose team's only loss in the event was to Wauconda.
Grant (3-3, 3-2) defeated Libertyville 25-20, 12-25, 25-13 to grab seventh place.
"I'm so happy," Grant coach Michele Keenan said. "We were nervous and scared in our first match last Tuesday against Lake Zurich. This is a new team and we are playing a lot of new kids in different positions. Our setter (Clara O'Brien) had never set in a varsity match. We worked with her over the week with her footwork and set selection and she really improved."
Keenan also stressed the improvement in serve receive from Tuesday, crediting players such as Katelyn Rossini, Kayla Reed, Cece Palladino and Jessica Porten. Sophomore Taylor Fruehling sparked the Bulldogs' serving game with 3 aces.
Keenan said it's the first time Grant had defeated Libertyville in many years.
"We had a timeout between the second and third set and we talked about how it was a battle of who's mentally tough because everyone is really tired after five matches," she said. "Our girls are really hungry to beat teams that we have not had success against in the past."
Libertyville (2-5, 2-3) visits Fremd on Wednesday.
"We are a young team and we need to find our balance," said Wildcats coach Greg Loika. "We had 51 errors against Lakes. We know we can beat teams when we are controlling the ball and staying confident." We just need to find that rhythm and stay balanced."