Girls volleyball: Maine West battles to win over Vernon Hills
Maine West's girls volleyball team found itself tied at 17-17 in the first set and 13-13 in the second set during Thursday's Central Suburban North season opener with visiting Vernon Hills.
But each time, the host Warriors dug in a little harder and were able to pull away to capture a 25-19, 25-18 triumph behind the explosive attack of senior Viviana Ramirez, who put down a match-high 8 kills.
"I think we are definitely a young team so our inexperience in the first set kind of showed through when we were making service errors," said Maine West interim coach Ally Kent (Nora Feyerer is on maternity leave). "But we talk about how much passion and grit these girls have and they were able to overcome those errors and to win the set."
With her team trailing 8-3 in Set 1, Kent called a time out.
Ramirez then put down a kill to spark a 6-2 rally which also included 2 aces by the outside hitter and co-captain.
"She is definitely our star hitter," said Clare Olson, the Warriors' senior setter. "She has the power and she can really do whatever."
An ace by Adriana Lee gave West (4-5) its first lead since 2-1. A service error tied it at 17-17 before the Warriors went on a 5-0 run, triggered by freshman Paige Forster's second of 3 kills in the match.
Two errors by Vernon Hills ended the set with Anna Montanile at the service line.
"We are struggling to make the good decisions on the things we try to work on at practice," said Cougars coach Chris Curry. "We are missing spots by just a little bit. When we are trying to serve to certain players and then we serve to one who is passing really well, then they were able to get the ball to No. 19 (Ramirez). You've got to work your game around keeping the ball away from their best player but we were missing our zones.
"We talk in practice about doing certain things. But when the match starts we are into old habits. We've got to get better at executing the real basics of the game."
Erica Bunning put down a quick set from Maya Raval to get the Cougars (4-10) to within 17-16 but the Warriors closed it out with an 8-2 run, capped by Ramirez' match winner.
"Viviana Ramirez is our No. 1 offense," Kent said. "She did an amazing job being able to place the ball. She made a couple of errors tonight but she is able to fight through it which is something we are very proud that everyone does on our team."
Senior Kyra Harrington and also put down 3 kills for the Warriors while junior and co-captain Daria Szczepura sparkled at her libero spot with 14 digs.
In addition to her 17 assists, Olson also served 3 aces.
"Clare Olson has amazing hands and she is one of the best setters we have had in this program," Kent added. "We're very lucky to have her move the ball around for us. Paige Forster makes some freshman errors but we love her to pieces because she is able to put balls down and get on top of it."
"Paige had a great match tonight, too" Olson added. "She is definitely coming out of her shell a little bit and using her power. We are definitely a young team but this was a good start to conference. We just stayed positive the whole time. We made some errors but we didn't get down on ourselves and that was the key. That's what helps us get wins."