Girls volleyball: Benet seniors savor home finale

 
By Gregg Voss
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/18/2018 8:51 PM

It only took the Benet girls volleyball team about 45 minutes Thursday to dispatch nonconference foe Providence Catholic.

But it's a good guess that seniors Caroline Gard, Valentina Tabares, Ally Van Eekeren and Caitlin McKee would have hoped for a little longer match.

 

You see, it was Senior Night, and it was also the last time those four Redwings will play on their home court, with the IHSA playoffs beginning next week. They made the most of their time, though, handling the Celtics 25-14, 25-11.

Forget the fact that Benet won its first East Suburban Catholic Conference title since 2015, tying with Marist at identical 7-1 records. Marist beat Nazareth 25-14, 25-14 Thursday.

This evening was about emotion.

"I can't wrap my head around the fact that I won't play in this gym again," said Van Eekeren, who had a huge night, what with 16 assists, 4 aces, 3 kills and 2 blocks.

"We just wanted to finish off strong," added Tabares, who scored the last 2 match-winning kills, and ended up with 4 on the evening.

Not only did Benet start strong, the Redwings sustained it and finished with a flurry to improve to 30-5 overall.

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Sophomore server Rachel Muisenga unknotted a 5-5 tie with clutch serving in the first set, helping stake the Redwings to a 13-5 lead. After a Providence point McKee scored a kill and then served her way to a 16-7 lead.

Gard closed the first set with an ace, but Benet was just beginning to roll.

Van Eekeren got the Redwings off to a 6-0 lead in the second set, and McKee pushed that out to 14-5 before Tabares shut the door.

"It feels like yesterday we were just little freshmen, and we were looking up to the varsity people, scared and everything," McKee said. "Now we're seniors. It flies by really fast."

But there was a greater good. The idea, Gard mused, was to build a foundation for the future. Mission accomplished.

"I think this year we have a close group of girls, so our focus this year was making sure our team was really close as a whole," she said. "And that's something we want the younger girls to carry down to the rest of the program. Honestly, I think the whole program is really close."

They certainly have left an impression on their coach, Brad Baker.

"When we have seniors, we always ask them to take on leadership roles, and to do more than just be great players," he said. "You have to be great people. They've learned a lot in this program and can they pass that stuff along to the underclassmen, so hopefully this can continue. They've done a great job."

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