Girls volleyball: Oswego East ends Neuqua Valley's season

Updated 10/27/2022 9:04 PM

Dina Beamon stood in front of her screaming Oswego East volleyball team, lifted the regional plaque and handed it to senior Samantha Trujillo.

Then the Wolves spent several minutes posing with the hardware for selfies.


History, it's worth savoring.

Oswego East, which already shattered the program win record it set last year and won the program's first conference title, added another first Thursday. When Megan Maier's spike from the left pin wasn't returned, it completed the Wolves' 25-23, 25-21 win over Neuqua Valley in the Class 4A Neuqua Valley Regional final and sealed the program's first regional championship.

"This is everything for us," said Savina Trujillo, one of nine Oswego East seniors. "We came in with a goal. Our starting lineup, a lot of us have been together since at least first grade and we're all seniors now. We just want to go out on a good note and go as far as we can."

It's been a whirlwind year for Beamon, in her second season as Wolves' head coach. She had her first child in June, then returned to the team for the start of the season. Holding her baby amid the girls' celebration was an unforgettable moment for both mom and coach.

"I'm incredibly proud, speechless, I'm in tears," Beamon said. "That's why I'm so emotional, is to have her here. I came back because I believed in these girls and I knew they could do it. To have my baby girl here and witnessing this and being part of this family, it means everything. It's been an incredible journey."

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Cailyn Smiley had 10 kills and nine digs, Maier seven kills and eight digs, Vivian Campbell seven kills, 12 assists and eight digs and Savina Trujillo 10 assists and three kills for fourth-seeded Oswego East (27-6), which advances to face top-seeded Benet in a sectional semifinal on Monday at Plainfield North.

Campbell had a tip kill, Maier followed with an off-balance kill from the left pin and Smiley back-to-back aces for a 4-0 run to give the Wolves the lead for good at 14-10 in the second set.

Smiley had four kills in the second set, two on back-to-back points late in the set, a thunderous shot getting the Wolves to 23-19. Smiley earlier had a kill off a Neuqua (22-15) overpass as part of a 5-0 run to get Oswego East ahead 21-19 in the first set, answering the Wildcats' own 5-0 run to go ahead 19-16.

"I trusted my team," Smiley said. "We were down a couple points, I knew our serve receive was good, we practice it all the time, I knew my setters were going to get me the ball and I knew I had to put it away."


Oswego East overcame another spectacular effort from Neuqua's Bryanna Jones.

The Wildcats' senior outside had a team-high nine kills, with kills for five of Neuqua's first seven points in the second set.

"My first year, it was hard to come in here, especially with some kids with big talent and she is a kid that I just asked her to trust me before the season started, and she did 100%," Neuqua coach Jamie Buhnerkemper said. "She is the backbone of this team. She is a workhorse and I love everything about her. You don't get kids like that too often."

Buhnerkemper couldn't complain much about a second set in which her team committed just four errors.

"I think each team made at most maybe five errors in the second set," she said. "One error, one thing could have change the direction of the match which is a compliment to both teams."

Beamon, for her part, saw the difference as Oswego East's ability to win points with multiple hitters -- and in multiple ways. Campbell dropped in a number of tip kills over a block, and Trujillo delivered some clutch setter dump shots -- with a big hit in the back of the Neuqua defense for the match's penultimate point.

"That's what we talked about is spreading the floor and utilizing everyone and being smart," Beamon said. "Our last loss, we went for power. We had to be smart and that was the difference this time."

"All practice we've been working on switching up our shots," Trujillo said. "We have power hitters, we can put it down, but we have to be smart. We have to know when is the right time to put all our juices in it and when is the right time to be smart and use your brain."

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