Girls volleyball: South Elgin keeps UEC title hopes alive
South Elgin's volleyball team is on the verge of an impressive first.
In the 14 years the school has been open, the Storm have never won a conference championship.
With a 25-17, 25-10 win at Bartlett on Wednesday night, South Elgin improved to 21-8 overall and 8-0 in the Upstate Eight Conference.
The win sets up a showdown with Glenbard East, also 8-0 in conference and 23-5 overall, for the Upstate Eight title next Tuesday on the Storm's home court.
"Last year we came so close so it would be a lot of fun to win this year," Storm senior Kendal Richardson said. "Tonight wasn't our best volleyball we ever played. We'll have to bring it on Tuesday."
Second place in the Upstate Eight Valley a year ago, South Elgin has 8 seniors back from that squad looking to bring home the elusive title.
"We are so excited to be playing on our home court next Tuesday for that big of match," said South Elgin coach Joni Plach, a Larkin graduate. "We have never been conference champs, it's never happened for girls volleyball. It's going to be a very fun match on Tuesday."
South Elgin started slow against the Hawks (16-9, 5-3).
Despite leading throughout the first set, Plach wasn't happy with the number of mistakes. Hayley Fisher did put away 6 of her match-high 12 kills.
"We always want to make sure we beat Bartlett," Fisher said. "It's always one of our best games when we play them."
Fisher's kill gave the Storm a 19-12 lead. Storm coach Bob Schwantz called his second timeout, but Angie Negron and McKayla Geraghty followed with blocks to make it 21-12.
Bartlett's Morgan Myers put away 3 of her 4 kills late in the first set before the Hawks hit wide for the final point.
"Serve-receive was shaky tonight, our hitting seemed off at times, our blocking seemed to be a step late almost every time," Schwantz said. "Then you look at their side of the net and there's someone there every time at least getting a touch. That hurts. They are a good team."
Bartlett led briefly in the second set, the final time at 4-3.
Fischer added 10 digs and had help from Rylee Pompa and Negron with 4 kills, Richardson (10 assists, 3 kills), Anna Skrzpchak (16 assists), Emily Wellman (11 digs) and Geraghty (12 digs).
Richardson ended the match with aces on the final two points.
"It wasn't one girl in particular, everybody made an error (in the first set)," Plach said. "We told them we have to work on communication a little more. They are just naturally quiet kids so trying to pull that communication out of them is sometimes kind of hard. They realize the importance of communication so we are working on that the next two weeks.
"Bartlett plays hard volleyball. They are scrappy. They go for balls. I tell my girls you have to play to the whistle. There were a couple times they started celebrating and the ball wasn't down."
Sam Martino (12 digs), Myers (6 digs), Dakota Johnson (7 assists), Maddie Hankins (6 assists, 3 kills), Ava Anagnostopoulos (3 kills) and Emily Baggot (3 kills) led the Hawks, who improved from a recent loss to the Storm when they scored 24 points.
Bartlett returns to the court Thursday for senior night against Glenbard North.
"I told the girls you tried your best, they beat you, now move on and play for the seniors tomorrow," Schwantz said. "Hopefully they can rise up and put everything together. Our goal now is fourth place in conference."
Bartlett will need to beat Elgin next week to do that.