Girls volleyball: Wheaton North takes 3rd at Jacobs invite
As Wheaton North volleyball coach Justin Hineman sees it, the Falcons' challenging early-season matches are becoming beneficial.
The Falcons got down big early against the host team Saturday at the Jacobs Volleyball Invitational in the third-place match, then came back and almost pulled out the first set.
Wheaton North then won two other close sets for a 22-25, 25-21, 25-23 victory over a team it lost to earlier in Pool 1 play.
"We were a little bit inconsistent today, but they really turned it on at the end to battle back, after losing that first set to a really good Jacobs team," Hineman said. "It was a heck of a job. We've had a really tough start in terms of schedule and really good teams, but it's starting to pay dividends in these close matches. We can rely on that experience."
Belvidere North defeated Lake Forest in the championship match 25-16, 11-25, 25-10.
The Falcons (6-6) were led by Audrey Brcka with 42 kills and 34 digs in the tournament. Brcka has 11 kills in the third-place match. Mia Benson finished with 32 kills, nine in the last match.
Paige Syswerda has 91 assists, 26 in the third-place match and Ella Brand finished with 84 digs, 20 in the third-place match.
"It was a big step in the right direction," Brcka said. "Our team has been working hard in the summer and the preseason. After our last season we wanted to prove something more.
"We're a really energy-focused team so when we fight back and come together, we play our best when we're really motivated."
Jacobs (6-3) led the first set, 19-8, but the Falcons nearly came back to steal it. The last two sets went back and forth, with neither team leading by more than three until the final margin.
"We are fighters," Jacobs setter Rachel Kaczorowski said. "Yeah, we're frustrated we lost, but we're fighters and we battled every single game, no matter what the situation is. We're so great off the court together and on the court it just clicks and we know how to get out of ruts."
Kaczorowski led the Golden Eagles with 96 assists and also had 37 digs and 15 kills. Jaclyn Poirier topped Jacobs with 33 kills, Ireland Van Stone added 27 and Sara Sasner had 20.
Poirier and Kate Wilson led Jacobs with eight serving aces in the tournament and Meredith Giustino had 57 digs.
Jacobs won its first set against Lake Forest in the semifinals and nearly advanced to the title match.
"We really wanted it," Jacobs coach Mike Depa said. "It was a bit of a letdown, home tournament, they really wanted it. A lot of the matches went three and they played really tough.
"We talked about it, we know when we have those leads we need to finish. We're coming together as a team and playing well, it's just finishing those games when we have those leads.
"It's a tough loss, but we can learn from that and it's good to happen in an early tournament like this."