SouthtownStar girls volleyball notebook
Updated: March 22, 2011 4:08PM
Among the crowd on hand for Saturday's classic semifinal at the Rich East Invitational between No. 1 Marist and No. 2 Mother McAuley was former Providence Catholic coach Nan Airola.
"What a great match," Airola said after watching Marist prevail 25-23, 22-25, 27-25. "I usually never stayed for this late of a game when we were playing, but this is McAuley and Marist. I just saw McAuley last week (against Providence), so they've made great strides in a week. Yeah."
Airola, who retired last season after 37 years and 918 victories, was at Rich East earlier in the day to watch Providence play in the "B" Division matches against Sandburg and Lemont. She hasn't been a frequent visitor to Celtics matches.
"It's been hard (staying away)," Airola said. "I miss the competition of the game. I miss game day. The hard practices and being in the heat? No. But I miss the coaches and watching the kids develop into something."
Airola has kept in close communication with new coach Rachel Ellingson, who was her assistant for 10 years.
"I talk to her every day. I may as well be there," Airola said, laughing. "We talk strategy, problems with kids, how to get through the big injury.
"I can remember when we'd scout together, we'd be watching the match and I'd start sentences and she'd finish them. What she saw out there is what I saw. A lot of times you have coaches who aren't looking at the right things they should be looking at. But she always saw what I saw. She's going to be a fine coach."
Sandburg coach David Vales said he isn't rushing outside hitter/setter Jenny Buczek back into the lineup. Buczek was in street clothes during the Rich East invite, still recovering from a bout with mono.
"She said she lost 15 pounds over the past few weeks," Vales said. "We're going to ease her back in. She'll probably see limited time at the Asics Challenge. I think we're playing well enough. We'll worry about the last stretch when get there."
Lincoln-Way East junior Lauren Behrens thought it was funny Sept. 9 when her teammates became excited that she "only" missed a school single-match record for kills by seven with 15 against Andrew.
Now she's got a piece of it.
In a 29-27, 18-25, 25-16 win Saturday over Downers Grove South at Rich East, Behrens tied the record set by Kathryn Langheld in 2002.
Chicago Christian took on some Class 3A and 4A giants at Rich East, beating Lincoln-Way Central, Queen of Peace and Lemont, and taking one game from both Sandburg and Marist.
The losses? Knights coach James Garcia isn't sweating them.
"These are big schools, big volleyball programs, and the girls have been handling it pretty well playing against them," he said. "After the losses, they come to practice with a mind-set of knowing what hurt us, and putting in an effort to work on it at practice."