Girls volleyball: St. Viator closes strong, stays in ESCC race
Slow starts, big finish.
The St. Viator girls volleyball team fell behind early in all 3 sets Tuesday against visiting Marian Catholic.
But on Senior Night, the Lions weren't about to be denied. Viator rallied and came up clutch in game 3 to score a 25-21, 21-25, 25-15 East Suburban Catholic Conference victory.
Senior Lauren Allaire and junior Marcelina Gorny led the Lions on attack with 11 kills each.
"This is a big win," said Viator coach Charlie Curtin. "It keeps us in contention for a conference championship."
It's been an amazing season thus far for the Lions, who improved to 27-4 on the year and 5-1 in the ESCC.
Viator won their first 12 matches of the year without dropping a set, and they're still undefeated on their home court.
"We have 14 seniors," said Curtin, "and they're a great group. They come in every day willing to put in the work, and the underclassmen really look up to them."
In addition to Allaire, other Lions seniors in the starting lineup included Cailyn Harrington, Lilly LaFleur, Marie Torosian, and Mia Parise.
In addition, other Senior Night honorees included players Maya Olender, Julia Domagala, Haley Mills, Kylene Flood, Alexis Tomlin, Anna Bartelt and Jennie Jarog, and team managers Holly Shore and Ronan Valera.
"For the last four years they've been coming in every day and buying in to what we're doing, as a program and culture," added Curtin. "They're all working hard, even though some of them don't get to play as much as they'd like to. But they're doing everything they can to help our team."
Viator trailed 5-1 in set 1, but rallied to win behind the serving of LaFleur (2 aces) and Mary Kate Lynch and Harrington, who served up an ace apiece.
Then came set 2, and this time Viator fell behind and couldn't dig out of a 7-point deficit, despite late kills from Allaire and Gorny and some inspired defensive play by libero Reanne Valera.
And in the huddle prior to the third set, Curtin had some advice for his team.
"I told them that this (Senior Night) was something they really looked forward to, we had an amazing crowd, so there was no reason to stress. Just to go out and have fun."
The Lions stared slow again in game 3, but took back the lead on a spike from Torosian.
Then a block kill from LaFleur, another by Allaire, and a Torosian ace saw Viator open a 6-point lead, and Marian Catholic couldn't recover.
A perfect set by Cailyn Harrington to LaFleur brought the score to 24-15, and then LaFleur had a block for the match point.
LaFleur hit 10 kills, Harrington finished with 36 assists, while Torosian and Valera each excelled with 14 digs.
"In the third set, we took care of the little things," said Curtin. "(Early on) we kind of got away from that and got flustered, but then the kids came out and just enjoyed the moment."