Girls volleyball: Fremd's thrilling win over Barrington knots up MSL West

 
 
Updated 10/7/2021 8:55 PM

One of the all-time thrilling finishes to a Mid-Suburban League girls volleyball showdown took place in the Barrington gymnasium on Thursday night.

State powers Fremd and the host Fillies were tied 8 times before the youngest player on the court ended the MSL West first-place showdown.

 

Freshman Victoria Belmonte's block gave Fremd a 25-22, 33-31 triumph and put the Vikings (20-2, 7-1) in a first-place tie with Barrington (17-5, 7-1).

If each team wins its final two matches in the West, they would be co-champions and due to the tiebreaker (10-8 edge for winning margin in head-to-head play), Fremd would earn the berth in the 50th annual MSL championship in two weeks. Barrington won the first match 25-22, 25-20 in Palatine.

"It really was (unbelievable)," said Fremd setter Rian Baker, a Wake Forest recruit who handed out 18 assists. " I don't recall being in such a tight set like that in high school. It was a fun match to be in and winning that final point was definitely awesome."

Vikings senior Rylen Reid put down a match-high 12 kills while Claudia Wala had 7 and Samantha Gump 3.

Jessica Horwath's team-high 11th kill tied the set at 31-31 before Baker set Reid for a kill and then Belmonte produced the big block.

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"She (Belmonte) was awesome out there," Baker said of the opposite hitter. "She definitely isn't afraid to make mistakes. She's like 'give me the ball, give me the ball, I've got this'. She's really been great all season."

Fremd coach Curt Pinley, now in his 23rd season, loved the effort of Belmonte.

"She really stepped up huge," he said. "We've had to count on her all season. I thought she really came into her own tonight."

"Rian set a real nice match and one of the nice things she did was have confidence in Belmonte, giving her the ball late in the match. That helped us turn the tide a little. It was important that Rian did that because she (Belmonte) can grow from that and we need her moving forward."

Back-to-back aces by Baker gave Fremd a 5-1 lead in Set 1 but the Fillies came back to tie it at 6-6 on 2 service points from Amanda Cleary.

The Vikings took command for good on a side out kill by Gump. Isabella Segoviano (14-of-15 serve receiving) then served 4 straight points, capped by Wala's kill and an ace.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The lead grew to 17-11 on 4 consecutive service points from Wala.

Barrington never got closer than 5 points. Wala served for 3 more points to make it 24-17 before Baker lofted a 15-foot set to Reid who put down the final point of the set.

The second set started out tied eight times until the hosts nudged ahead 15-12 with a kill from Berekley Ploder, an ace by Sarah Jensen and a kill by Campbell (7 kills).

Back-to-back aces by Jenna Meitzler pushed the advantage to 19-13.

But the Vikings came back to tie it at 23-23 on a pair of aces from Baker, forcing the Fillies to use their first time out of the set.

Little did anyone know that would be the first of eight straight ties.

"It's been a long time since I've seen a set end like that," Pinley said. "I would have to go way back in the memory banks. Anytime you play Barrington you hope they're going to bring the best out of you, and tonight they brought the best out of us."

Without senior DS Maeve Miller (illness) available, Pinley gave senior Ella French her first start of the season.

"Ella did a phenomenal job stepping up," Pinley said. "That was a lot of pressure for her and she really accepted it."

Gwen Adler (15 assists) and Jenna Meitzler (12) set the Fillies' offense while the defense was sparked by Amanda Cleary (17 digs).

"We played well in the first set, leading 19-14," said Barrington coach Michelle Jakubowski. "We had opportunities, and they had opportunities. It was a great match. Two great teams. I hope we see them again. It would be in a supersectional.

"I really thought we played well as a team in the second set. I love that our team is not just one player. Yes, Jess and Campbell did a great job. My middles came through. My defense came through. As always, we try to do well as a team."

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