Girls volleyball: Maine West handles Maine East
Maine West junior Daria Szczepura, who began the season as a defensive specialist, played all-around for the first time on Monday night when the Warriors' girls volleyball team defeated Niles North.
"She stepped into that role really well," said Maine West assistant coach Ally Kent. "We are really proud of her and can't wait to see her keep growing as an outside hitter. She is very athletic and steps up to whatever challenge we give her."
That was certainly the case on Wednesday night as Szczepura played her all-around role to the hilt, collecting 4 kills, 6 digs and serving her longest run of the season to break open the first set.
And add a setting assist she made on senior Viviana's Ramirez's match-high seventh kill that ended the Central Suburban North contest in favor of the Warriors 25-14, 25-11 over Maine East in Park Ridge.
The Warriors (12-8, 6-1) won their sixth straight conference match after a three-set loss to Deerfield (20-3).
"We can't wait for another chance (at Deerfield on Oct. 5)," Kent said. "We are going to keep working hard, pushing in practice and be ready for them."
With the Warriors holding a 13-9 lead following a kill by Ramirez (3 blocks) in Set 1, Szczepura was ready for her second visit of the night to the service line.
She recorded a season-best 8 straight points, including 4 aces (3 straight), as the visitors sped to a 21-9 advantage.
"I was just focusing on the zones my coach was giving me," Szczepura said.
"She hits all her zones," Kent said. "Any time I give her anything, she is up to the challenge and she executes, which is important."
As usual, Clare Olson, who produced a nifty second-attack kill for a 3-0 lead in Set 2, executed the offense in stellar fashion, dishing out 21 assists.
Paige Foster benefitted from Olson's sets as the freshman put down 6 kills. "Clare (senior setter) always steps up and she definitely was very helpful tonight," Kent added.
Junior Celestina Onyeise (2 blocks) put down a kill to end a 3-point service run by Szczepura that made the score 23-11 in the second set. Onyeise (2 blocks) then came up with a block for the penultimate point of the match.
"She (Onyeise) didn't play last spring because of COVID-19," Kent said. "So having her back this fall we weren't sure how she progressed but she has stepped up and takes feedback real well and applies it really well in a match."
Maine East coach Rintu Philip said his team's (3-13, 1-4) back row defense was key.
"Our libero (Madison Serrano) is always our fastest player on the court," he said. "She is hands down our best defensive player. Delila Zvizdic is another back row player we depend on and Mahima Chokshi played well. Credit goes to Maine West. They played clean volleyball, great defense and were picking her (Chokshi) up.
"Obviously, we didn't have a good passing game today and that clearly changed the game. We have a young team and today we didn't have serve receive but we will work on that for our next match."