Girls Volleyball: Shepard getting the system down

Updated: October 29, 2012 8:57PM

Shepard, which shared the South Suburban Red crown in 2011 with Richards, reigned alone this season after beating Evergreen Park on Oct. 18 to finish 12-1.

The fun run may not end there.

The program overall was 72-20-1, with the freshmen going undefeated in conference and the sophomores 12-1.

“Bottom to top it’s been a special season,” Shepard coach Dan Grunauer said. “The seniors (Franchesca Graffeo, Zeja Shannon, Stephanie Korbakes, Natalie Carberry, Jessica Chaput and Ellie Smykowski) this year have been great ambassadors for the program. They started in this program right when I took it over (2010). They bought in and they ran with it. It’s been a fun thing to watch it unfold.”

An increase of club players, Grunauer said, has brought positive results.

“Ultimately, it comes down to, are the kids going to play year-round? Are they going to stay in shape if they’re not playing year-round? When I took over there were six kids in club. The last time I checked, not counting the seniors, there are 27 this year. It’s a lot easier to do my job when there are dedicated kids like that.”

Stepping up

A big win in a big match.

Lincoln-Way Central coach Kathy Sulkowski has been looking for one since becoming head coach in 2009. They don’t come much bigger than the one the then-No. 5 Knights registered Thursday night in toppling No. 1 Marist 25-19, 23-25, 25-21 to capture the Class 4A Lincoln-Way North Regional title.

“It’s exciting the direction our program is heading,” Sulkowski said. “It was a great match for us.”

Lincoln-Way Central was led by outside hitter Maria Brown, who had 12 kills and nine digs. Setter Kaitlyn Siadek also played a key role, with 30 assists and nine digs, while Amanda Dolan contributed eight kills and 10 blocks.

Defense, Sulkowski maintained, ultimately was what made the difference.

“We were picking up balls and our block, I think, was solid,” she said. “Marist has some great outside hitters, but we did a good job getting deflections on their hits so we could play the ball and run our offense.”

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