Girls Volleyball: Brianna Stewart lifts Larkin past Elgin

Updated: October 22, 2012 9:23PM

Brianna Stewart doesn’t play every position on the floor for Larkin, but it seemed that way Monday night.

The junior right side hitter was an indomitable force throughout Larkin’s 25-18, 25-21 victory over crosstown rival Elgin in the opening round of the Class 4A Schaumburg Regional.

Stewart spiked a match-high 11 kills to go with three aces, two blocks, two assists and two digs as the Royals knocked off the Maroons for the seventh straight time. Larkin, the 11th seed at their own sectional, will face fifth-seeded Schaumburg in Tuesday’s regional semifinals.

“She’s awesome,” Larkin coach Henry Graack said of Stewart. “She’s a Division I talent, no doubt about it. She’s been a huge player for us all season.”

Stewart showed off her skills in a variety of ways, pounding four kills from the right side and two from the middle as the Royals (19-16) built an early 15-9 lead. She then blocked a pair of Elgin attacks later in the opening set.

“(Graack) just told us to be ready to do anything and play at any position,” Stewart said. “We practice that.”

The Royals were heavy favorites against Elgin (2-31-2), but Stewart was mindful that the Maroons had taken them to three sets during the regular season.

“Before the game I told (her teammates) not to be serious because then they play scared, so we all went to the locker room and did a bunch of goofy stuff just to get pumped up,” Stewart said. “(We knew) they would be looking to play harder at us because we are their rivals.”

Elgin jumped out to a 5-1 start in game two behind three kills from senior Jackie Shioli, but Larkin responded by going on a 7-0 run behind the serving of senior Annalise Gaston and the hitting of Stewart, who had three kills during that surge.

The Maroons were down 9-6 when Michelle Wolff served four straight points for Larkin, with Stewart scoring twice on dumps, one a backhand tip with her back to the net.

“(Stewart) has good touch, she has power and she can set,” Graack said. “She’s not our setter because we need her offensively, but she can set. She’s just a great all-around player.”

The Royals stretched their lead to 20-11 on a pair of aces from Olivia Kofie but Elgin fought back within 24-21 before a Maroons serving error ended it.

“My girls have a lot of fight in them,” Elgin coach Scott Stewart said. “I told them I don’t care what the outcome of this game is as long as we give it our all at the end and they did. They fought to the very end.”

Kofie and Alexis Price added three kills each and Alyssa McGhee dished 15 assists for Larkin. Shioli, who is hoping to play in college, paced Elgin with eight kills.

“I was really proud of Jackie’s performance today,” Stewart said. “That was the best I’ve seen her play. She kept her head in the game and she was a real team leader out there.”

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