Girls volleyball: Kasten, Fleming a smash hit as Libertyville downs Lake Zurich
A recording of the national anthem stopped abruptly before the start of Wednesday night's Lake Zurich-Libertyville girls volleyball match.
The spectators -- along with the players and coaches -- didn't miss a beat, completing the last few lyrics with their voices inside Libertyville's West gym.
Libertyville junior outside hitter Keira Kasten and sophomore outside hitter Hannah Fleming took care of the finishing business on the court, combining for 15 kills in the Wildcats' 25-16, 25-21 victory in a North Suburban Conference opener for each squad.
Kasten had 8 kills, including 1 near the end of 14-3 run in the second set; LZ (5-9, 0-1) had secured a 6-3 advantage on a kill from junior middle Akpevwe Akpoigbe (3 kills, 2 blocks) before the hosts put together that match-turning surge.
Fleming smacked 7 kills, including 1 that widened the Wildcats' lead to 11-4 in the first set.
But Fleming and Kasten noted a key to the triumph occurred well before the first serve of the match and the last note of The Star Spangled Banner.
"Warm-up session," Fleming said. "Ours was strong tonight. We showed a lot of confidence."
"Everybody," Kasten added, "was cheering. We were ready to go, right away. We got off to a good lead with a few kills and a few blocks."
Wildcats senior libero Grace Comilla (match-high 14 digs) had the scramble of the match, lengthening a lengthy point in the second set by bumping a dig near a set of bleachers. Kasten struck a kill shortly thereafter, upping Libertyville's lead to 16-9.
"We had talked a bunch about being aggressive and driving the action," Libertyville coach Greg Loika said after his crew improved to 3-7, 1-0. "We served better than we had, and our hitting (. 300) performance was the best of the season.
"We executed all the things we'd been working on in practice."
Wildcats Jamie Marquardt (10 assists) and Grace Bonjour (9) shared the setting duties; junior right side Margot Kaufman had 3 kills; junior defensive specialist Macy Schaffnit delivered a match-best 3 aces to go along with 6 digs; and Kasten and senior middle Kelly Hutchins popped for 2 blocks apiece.
Junior outside hitter Chelsea Williams paced the Bears' attack with 9 kills and also contributed 4 digs and 1 block The second of her back-to-back kills in the first set capped a 3-0 sequence that appeared to embolden the visitors.
But Fleming responded with a kill, and Libertyville pocketed the set 2 points later.
LZ senior Jarynn Hartman pounded 3 kills, sophomore libero Madelyn Elsen had 4 digs, and junior setter Heidi Mason lofted 18 assists.
"Serve-receive passing -- we have to work on that, get better at that," Bears coach Rachel Wiatrowski said. "We need to fix some things. Our girls don't like to disappoint."