Girls volleyball: Grayslake Central off to strong start; Barrington still perfect

  • Karolina Pintinas, left, is one of the key players Grayslake Central is relying on this season.

    Karolina Pintinas, left, is one of the key players Grayslake Central is relying on this season. Daily Herald file photo

Updated 9/19/2022 12:48 PM

With its 10-6 record, Grayslake Central's girls volleyball team is off to a winning start this season.

"We are a senior heavy team this year," said Rams coach Arian Colton. "However, we have three sophomores and two freshmen who are playing integral roles." Seniors Ella Tews (MH), Karolina Pintinas (OH) and Charley Topp (OH) are leading the offense with 64, 63 and 60 kills respectively, through the first three weeks of the season.


Freshman Madalene Meckl is the Rams' libero.

"She plays some really great defense and displays court and game awareness that is far beyond what a typical freshman displays," Colton said.

Meckl leads the team with digs (56) followed closely by senior defensive specialist Catherine Guckenberger with 50.

"The combination of senior experience and underclassmen talent is a great thing," Colton said. "And we are excited to watch the dynamic continue to evolve as the season progresses."

Fun at Fremd:

Former Palatine girls volleyball assistant Pete Gavin, now in his first year as the Fremd head coach, has the Vikings off to an 8-5 start.

"I can't tell you how much fun I am having coaching this team" said Gavin, whose brother Dan is the head coach for Palatine. "They are gritty, tough, and want to learn every day."

The Vikes' own their impressive record despite only returning one player.

Kate Pfister started 3 matches last year as a middle.

"Victoria Belmonte would have also been a returner but suffered a knee injury this summer," Gavin said. "We know there are going to be ups and downs, but I believe in this team and most importantly they believe in themselves."

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Lemay stepping up:

Wauconda had to replace its setter from a 5-1 offense in 2021.

"We started the season looking to fill that role," said Bulldogs coach Becky Muff.

She found her player in Delaney Lemay.

"She has stepped up as a leader on the court being willing to play any position I have asked from her," Muff said. "We are also seeing huge senior leadership from right side Mikayla Zacharias."

Muff also said juniors Emily Lisi and Lauren Aldrich are helping on the pins and in the middle with their ability to be diverse along the net.

Defensive gem:

Hersey coach Laura Gerber says libero Elizabeth Avirmed is a game-changer.

"She is a great libero and knows the game very well," said Gerber, the Huskies' first-year coach whose club is off to a 7-4 start. "Leah Nawrot is emerging as a really strong outside with great potential. She can hit a nice variety of shots and is a really strong blocker."


Relentless game:

The Daily Herald's top-ranked team, Barrington, has shown resilience en route to its 14-0 record this fall.

Four times the Fillies have lost a first set only to come back and win in two.

With Campbell Paris on the sidelines with an injury, Fillies coach Michelle Jakubowski inserted Hope Regas into the outside hitting spot.

"And she has been playing great," said the veteran coach who led the team to a third-place finish in the 2021 Class 4A state finals.

Nice comeback:

Carmel's Claire Parker suffered a torn labrum which ended her sophomore season before it even started.

The junior setter elected to get surgery and has been fighting her way back since.

"A setter is always a critical piece to a team's success but Claire has had to endure even more than usual," said Corsairs coach David Pazely. "She had a strong summer camp and proved she was ready to shoulder the burden or running our 5-1 offense. We have spent a lot of time working on hitters and setters finding their rhythm and Claire has been able to deliver."

She has helped lead the Corsairs to some key wins.

"Her distribution against Lakes and St. Viator was excellent," Pazely said. "And even though the hitters get the credit for the kills, they wouldn't have happened without Claire."

True leader:

Carmel coach David Pazely says his junior libero and captain Isa Sfwiatkowski is one of the best leaders he has worked with in his career.

"She takes the time to work with teammates before, during and after practice to help them develop their skills as well as their mental preparation," Pazely said. "She puts in the extra time and effort on herself as well both in the weightroom and the gym. As a result, she's able to play any position on the court."

Sfwiatkowki's efforts have helped accelerate the development of the Corsairs' defensive specialists.

"As a result we were able to work through some injuries by moving one of those defensive specialists to libero and Isa to an opposite hitter," the coach said.

"Not many liberos are also able to play front row. Isa doesn't just do it, she does it well. She has made some clutch blocks, had some big kills, bolstered our defense and serve-receive because of her libero skillset and pushed us to victory as a result."

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