Girls volleyball: Rolling Meadows nears milestone after topping Prospect

Rolling Meadows' Carmen Powers admitted things were a little tense for the young Mustangs girls volleyball team on Wednesday night at the Jean Walker Field House in Mt. Prospect when Prospect hosted their annual Volley for A Cure match.

“It was honestly really stressful because this was the biggest student section we've ever played before,” said Powers, a junior setter. “It was really big and there were decorations everywhere. We knew we had to play really well in order to have a good chance at second place in our division (MSL East). So, we were super-hyped for this match.”

Powers showed she was super unfazed when it came down to crunch time. The Mustangs' leader in aces reeled off three in a row to push her team into an 18-14 lead in the second set. After a Prospect timeout she added 5 more points to extend the advantage to 23-14 with her 8-point serving run.

Moments later, Meadows was celebrating a 26-24, 25-16 win to raise its record to 19-13 and 6-3, just one win shy of becoming the program's first team to win 20 matches since Joe Di Silvio's club won 22 in 2016, the fourth 20-win season in his six years.

“That would be a really big deal for us,” said Powers of getting to the 20-win mark. “Because as a team, we've worked really, really hard and since summer camp, we've all been super excited for this season.”

“They worked really hard and all of them have come back different players than they were last season,” said Meadows' former boys volleyball outside hitter and first-year coach Jack Nickle. “Also, they are extremely competitive and they hate losing.”

The match featured a festive atmosphere on Wednesday, as Prospect had plenty of raffle gift baskets to help raise money for breast cancer awareness.

Since starting the event in 2008 when Mike Riedy was the head coach, Prospect has raised more than $108,000.

“It's awesome that their parents and program are able to step up and do that for charity,” said Nickle, who is in a unique situation replacing his wife Katie as the head coach this fall. “It's really a cool event. The crowd is so great and it's one of the most fun matches we've played all season from an energy standpoint.”

Nickle was formerly an assistant in the program.

“Even though Katie (former Meadows standout) wanted a break for herself, we still wanted to continue to do what we'd been doing and push the program forward,” Jack said.

Prospect also has a former MSL volleyball player and first-year coach.

Michele Mueller starred at Hersey for hall of fame coach Nancy Lill.

“It's a fun atmosphere and Prospect has always done a great job to make this a fun event,” said Mueller, who played in a few Volley for a Cure matches herself. “It's really fun to be part of this as a player and a coach. Our parents and the program have done an amazing job to put this all together and really make it something special.”

Meadows junior Lucy Pufundt has had a special season. With Meadows trailing 24-23 in the first set, she had three straight kills to end it. Pufundt has gone over 600 kills, giving her the most at Meadows since at least 2011.

Prospect (10-12, 3-6), was led on attack by sophomores Alli Linke (7 kills), Aimee Ciupeiu (3) and senior Abby Samuelson (2) while junior setter Lucy Ross had 8 assists and senior Ashlyn Pomis served 3 aces.

“I told my kids in the second timeout of the second set that this is a game of serve and serve receive,” Mueller said. “They're going on runs and we're going on runs. Unfortunately, we lost that battle. Meadows is a great serving team and I was proud we were able to put some tough serves over, too.”

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