Girls volleyball: Wheaton North continues turnaround season
After a disappointing last season, the Wheaton North girls volleyball team was hoping to change the vibe of the program under first-year head coach Justin Hineman.
The Falcons have done just that this fall.
On Tuesday, Wheaton North knocked off two-time defending DuKane Conference champion Geneva 25-19, 14-25, 25-18 on the Falcons' home court. In the process, they won their 16th match, equaling their total from the previous three years combined.
"We have improved a lot," said senior libero Ella Brend. "Last year our record wasn't how we wanted it. Coming out with a new coaching staff, we've come out very strong and have overcome some challenges that we've faced in the past. It's fun to be a part of the first year of a new coaching staff and I can't wait to see where they take the program in the future."
The sixth seed in the upcoming Bartlett sectional, Wheaton North (16-16, 4-2) has been in nearly every match, with eight of its losses coming in three games. The Falcons flipped that script on Tuesday, scoring 9 of the final 13 points in game three. Allie Whitmer had a pair of kills during that spurt and finished with six in the match.
"I'm just so proud of this team," Whitmer said. "This season has been filled with so much fun. Every day I'm excited to come out to the court. I love this sport and I love this team. Our team camaraderie is insane, I've never played on a team this close before. Obviously being a senior, I have a different perspective this year but I don't want it to end."
The home team won the opening game behind three kills from Mia Benson and two apiece from Audrey Brcka and Whitmer. Caitlin Johnson added an ace, a block and four service points.
"It's really nice to see our team come together," said Johnson, one of eight seniors on the team. "We played free and fearless and we played for each other. That was so fun."
Brcka finished with a team-high eight kills to go along with two aces.
"The seniors really bring the leadership necessary for good things to happen on the court," said Hineman, who was the freshman B coach last season and is also the boys JV coach. "And the juniors have worked really hard to raise their level of play. It's fantastic to see. I'm excited to see how we finish and continue to progress."
The Vikings (6-19, 3-3) were led by the match-high 10 kills from Samantha Vanda. The freshman tallied four of those, along with three aces, during the second game victory. Madilyn Danielson had eight kills and Lauren Benson and Grace Beitzel totaled seven kills apiece.
Geneva, which is the 14th seed at the Oswego sectional, is coming off a 15-1 campaign but returned only three players from that team.