Girls volleyball: Conant rallies past pesky Schaumburg

By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/28/2021 9:13 PM

It ain't over 'til it's over.

That's an adage, of course, made popular by New York Yankees Hall-of-Fame catcher and malaprop master Yogi Berra in 1973 (when his playing career was over and he was manager of the crosstown Mets.)


Still, the saying can be very, very real, and it was never more true than at Tuesday's girls volleyball match between Conant and host Schaumburg.

The visiting Cougars trailed 22-11 in the first set, but came back to score an almost unheard of 14 consecutive points to win the set 25-22.

Conant rode that wave of momentum into the second set, rallying again to take the set 25-15 and earn a well-contested Mid-Suburban West victory.

Senior Farah Cisse led the Cougars with 11 kills and 10 digs, while Angelica Sudol had 4 kills and excelled at the service line.

"Angelica served us back into the game," said Conant coach Drewann Pancratz of her team's incredible Set 1 run, "and our middle, (senior) Maddy Germaine, came in and made a big difference."

Schaumburg came out from the opening serve on fire, playing extremely well.

Behind the stellar play of middle hitter Grace Zinchuk, Gabby Tuiaana (3 early kills) and sophomore Gabi Zarate, the Saxons opened up the 11-point lead and were on the verge of taking a 1-set advantage.

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Then Conant went on the tear which let it claim the first set, paced by some great libero play by Jiya Patel, 2 late aces from Sudol, and a final block kill by Germaine.

Two key time outs called by Pancratz gave a big assist to the cause.

"I just told them to get back to playing our game," said the coach.

"When we don't work as a team, we get bogged down," agreed Germaine. "She (Pancratz) just made us aware that it was all in our heads, and it was all about energy. We went back on the court and gave it our all."

Schaumburg fought back and took a 1-point lead midway through Set 2 on an ace from Zinchuk.

"We talked about the second set being a character-builder," said Schaumburg coach Tim Murphy. "I told them, 'come out in game 2 and see what kind of a team you can be', and they really battled."

But Conant wasn't to be denied. The Cougars regained the lead on 3 straight kills by Cisse, and 2 more block kills from Germaine.

The Cougars extended the lead and won the set and match, fittingly, on a final block kill from Germaine.


"We just made way too many unforced errors in game two to stay in the match like we wanted to," said Murphy. "Conant played great, hats off to them. Now we need to do some soul-searching as a team and find out what our strengths are and our weaknesses are -- and try to capitalize on the strengths."

Patel finished with 15 digs four the Cougars, while Gianna Spetka had 22 assists.

"We came out a little flat tonight," said Pancratz. "It's all about serve and serve-receive, and in the beginning, we just did not have it. But it was a nice comeback (in the first set), and we continued that into the second game.

"Point-by-point, we started to bring back some energy and the girls rallied back together as a team."

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