Girls volleyball: Konopka, Glenbrook North oust Mundelein
Watching Maddie Konopka serve in the first set of Tuesday's Class 4A regional girls volleyball opener at Glenbrook North, it's hard to believe she once was uncomfortable at the service line.
"Honestly, serving used to be something that really scared me," said the talented libero and Binghamton University (New York) recruit. "Because I could never get the ball over the net. Then I started doing push-ups (to pick up strength) and I now I love serving."
The Spartans fans loved watching the 5-foot-6 senior rattle off a career-best 14 straight consecutive points in the opening set which set the tone for a 25-3, 25-14 triumph over No. 13 seed Mundelein (3-30).
No. 4 seed Glenbrook North (24-7) will face No. 6 Glenbrook South (17-14) for the regional title on Thursday at 6 p.m.
"Maddie is definitely one of the strongest and most consistent servers," said Spartans coach Tiffany Kim. "So (the long run) is not surprising. She is a lot stronger than last year. Overall, everyone on the team did well."
Senior Ava Spaniak, a 6-foot-1 outside hitter, led the hosts with 8 kills, followed by middle blocker Taylor Brocato with 3.
Konopka's big run came with the score tied 2-2.
She also had 9 digs and 2 assists and served the Spartans to a 16-2 advantage as the hosts required just four servers in the first set.
Iliana Balaskas followed Konopka's big run with seven straight points (23-3 lead), including 2 aces and blocks from Aubrie Krzus, Brocato and Jane Heywood (1 kill, 1 block), who turned in some extra duties by singing a stellar rendition of the national anthem.
Heywood's block made it 23-3. Another block by Brocato and one more by Austyn Davis finished the set at 25-3.
Mundelein's 3 points came off a hitting error by Glenbrook North, a service point from Bridget Quimet and a kill by Josilyn Wadas.
It was Konopka (23-of-23) again who also served the Spartans into the lead for good in the second set. Her 3 service points gave the hosts a 4-2 lead they would never lose.
Back-to-back blocks by Baklskas pushed the hosts' lead to 10-7 and they went ahead 19-9 after 3 service points from Renee St. John that included an ace and a kill by St. John.
Mundelein got a kill from Olivia Benjamin to get to within 21-13 before Glenbrook went on a 4-1 run to end the match.
"We were a little nervous and played a little scared in the beginning," said 18-year veteran Mustangs coach George Dressen Jr. "Once we settled down a little, we gained our composure back and we were playing much better volleyball.
"In the second set, I think everyone settled down enough to where they all did it together. I don't think anyone stood out. We are proud of everyone for trying their best and playing to their most capable abilities at this point of the season."