Girls volleyball: St. Viator has just the right kick to down Grayslake North
Cailyn Harrington has never performed as an actual Irish dancer.
But the St. Viator senior setter -- after being introduced before the start of Wednesday night's girls volleyball match at Grayslake North -- executed a kick move any Irish dance instructor would have applauded.
"I started doing that last season (in the truncated spring season), in part because I thought it was funny," a smiling Harrington said. "You know, arms straight down, followed by a jump-kick."
"Maybe I'll call the kick 'The Cailyn' from now on."
Call Viator's Lions "winners." Again. Coach Charlie Curtin's crew brushed off a 4-1 deficit in the first set, went on an explosive 21-5 run and left the Knights' gym with a crisp 25-13, 25-14 victory and a 28-4 record.
"The goal was to come here and take care of business," Curtin, a former defensive specialist at Hersey and Iowa, said after the schools' first-ever meeting. "Grayslake North is a potential (Class 3A) sectional opponent. We also wanted to take care of the little things, and we did that."
Harrington finished with 20 assists, 8 digs and 3 kills in the nonconference match, with her final kill coming on match point. (Yes, she jumped a little, this time with her right arm straight up, before clinching the 2-set decision).
"The key for us was to play with heart at the start," Harrington said. "From there we kept pushing, pushing, pushing. We don't take any opponent for granted. We maintained our focus and made sure we were loud at the net."
Lions senior outside hitter Marie Torosian paced the visitors' attack with a match-high 9 kills, followed by senior middle Lilly LaFleur and junior opposite hitter Louisa Battin with 4 apiece. Senior hitter Lauren Allaire struck for 3 kills, and junior middle Marcelina Gorny pounded 2.
"Their out-of-system sets were tremendous," said Knights coach Jim Sarver, whose reigning Northern Lake County Conference championship squad would earn at least a share of another NLCC title with a win versus Grant on Thursday.
"To put down the big swings St. Viator took from the outside ... that's such a nice skill to have."
GN (14-13) won the first 3 points of the first set and went up 4-1 on a kill by senior outside hitter Emily Porter (7 digs, second among Knights to senior libero Bria Verber's 9). Knights junior outside hitter Tess Buckley had opened the scoring with an ace and, moments later, smacked the first of her 3 kills for the 3-0 advantage.
St. Viator established momentum with an 8-2 burst, prompting Sarver to call his first timeout. The pause did little to slow Viator.
A Torosian kill, seconds after a LaFleur kill, expanded the Lions' lead to 20-9.
Grayslake North hung around gamely in the second set, trailing only 14-10 after a Buckley kill.
The visitors from Arlington Heights later produced another figurative exclamation point with a 10-2 run to make it 21-11.
"Our players come ready to compete, every night," Curtin said.
Viator junior libero Reanne Valera had 6 digs and tied Allaire for team-high honors in aces with 2. Junior setter Mary Grace Lynch bumped 3 digs.
Knights junior middle Arianna Knowles led the hosts in blocks (2) and aces (2). Six-foot junior middle Morgan Nielsen hammered 3 kills.