Girls volleyball: Glenbard West downs York in conference opener
Not so long ago, Makayla Webber was a key sophomore contributing to another strong Glenbard West girls volleyball team that reached a regional final for the 10th consecutive season.
Now she's one of two starting seniors among several sophomores for another lineup on track for a special season.
"It's definitely pretty exciting because I get to work with a bunch of people that I played with last year," Webber said.
"I know next year and the year after they're going to be really, really good. It's fun to play with them while I'm still here."
The 6-foot-2 Webber contributed a key kill Tuesday that helped the Hilltoppers complete a 25-16, 25-22 victory at York in the West Suburban Conference Silver opener for both teams.
The Hilltoppers (9-2) led the second set for good after pulling ahead 15-11 but York (6-6) closed to within one point four times.
Following a Glenbard West timeout when York closed to 22-21, Webber crushed the quick-middle set from junior setter Katherine Creswell off serve receive for her fourth kill.
The Dukes threatened again at 23-22 but then committed a service error and attack timing error on match point.
"I thought (York senior Ella Lawson) kept them in the game, a nice balance of shots. Whenever this team's challenged, we come through," said longtime Glenbard West coach Pete Mastandrea, who is retiring after this season. "We're 3-0 in three-set matches and a couple of them were just really, really big gut checks. They pressed us at the end and we came through. They didn't make mistakes. We executed down the stretch."
Glenbard West sophomores Avery Herbert and Marin Johnson had seven and five kills and senior Megan Pihlstrom had four. Creswell had 19 assists. Dig leaders were junior libero Demi Carpio with 10, Johnson with eight, Creswell with seven and junior Liz Murray at five.
Lawson fueled York's second-set surge with eight of her 10 kills. Senior Ella Contant with four kills, junior libero Kadie Julian with 11 digs and sophomore setter Emelyn Stettin with 12 assists and six digs.
The Hilltoppers' 10-player starting rotation Tuesday consisted of hitters Webber and Pihlstrom, three juniors and five sophomores.
"This team has a very high ceiling. I'm excited," Mastandrea said.
Glenbard West previously defeated York 25-21, 25-22 Aug. 28 in the quarterfinals of Wheaton North's Blue and Gold Tournament en route to winning the 12-team invite with an emotional 17-25, 25-23, 25-23 victory over Montini after a two-set loss in pool play. Webber, Pihlstrom and Lawson were named all-tournament. York finished seventh.
"I think we realized how good of a team we are when we all work together. Goingmforward, I think we'll do really well," Webber said.
Many new faces are leading the Dukes, who graduated 10 seniors. New head coach Danny Piwowarczyk was an assistant the past two seasons for longtime coach Patty Iverson.
Lawson had 10 kills in 20 attacks to increase her team-high total to 88.
"She's been really hot the past four games. I made a point of emphasis in the second set, let's set her as much as we can," Piwowarczyk said.
"There were a couple of spots where we missed a couple of serves but I encourage the kids to serve aggressively. Props to Glenbard West's defense. They had a ton of great digs. Set one they played super clean, very few errors. Set two I did think we had a chance to take it but sometimes the bounces just don't go your way."
Many younger Hilltoppers gained valuable experience during the abbreviated 2020-21 spring season. Carpio and Murray have been varsity mainstays since they were freshmen.
For the final three points of Tuesday's first set, Carpio delivered back-to-back aces followed by a Webber and Johnson block for set point.
"I felt like York was really stepping up their game. Today we just pushed really hard," Carpio said. "I was just trying to make sure my serves made it in. I didn't want to get yelled at later."