Despite injury, Burlington Central hangs onSt. Edward's #12 Katie Swanson (roster # - double check name)prepares to keep the ball in play during Wednesday's game against Burlington Central.
August 24, 2011 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 24, 2011 9:51PM
When senior setter and four-year starter Kaitlyn O’Reilly went down with a knee injury in the first pregame warm-up session Wednesday, it could have spelled instant disaster for Burlington Central in a road match with St. Edward.
Yet the experienced Rockets rallied around inexperienced junior setter Courtney Cox and went on to a 25-21, 25-17 victory behind 10 kills from outside hitter Sydney Sand.
“Our other setter really pulled through,” Sand said. “It’s her first year on varsity. She did awesome.”
O’Reilly had already signed with Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, and now her senior year is in doubt.
“She said she felt something pop — she tried to go but couldn’t,” Central coach Marv Leavitt said about O’Reilly. “She’s our Division I setter and runs the team.
“At first, the look in the girls’ eyes was like, ‘oh no, what’s going to happen,’ but then they settled down and did a nice job.”
Cox made 15 assists and served twice for aces in place of O’Reilly. It’s not an easy job setting for Central because the Rockets expect to attack from many different directions — and Cox not only lacked any varsity experience but is one of the non-club players.
“We were trying to move around our sets and with our setter going down we still really pulled it together,” Sand said.
Central owned narrow leads in both games before streaking away behind Sand’s hitting and also the net play of senior hitter Hayley Brake (5 blocks, 2 kills).
The Rockets (1-1) looked far more relaxed in their second match after playing powerhouse Marian Central close Monday, and they turned a 13-10 lead into a 20-12 advantage in the first game. In the second game, Central led 13-9, then scored seven of the next nine points to take control.
Libero Sam Bohne came up with 12 digs and an ace and defensive specialist Allie O’Reilly made seven digs and four aces, while outside hitter Lexie Bouza had three kills for Central.
St. Edward made a couple of rotation violations after gaining some momentum early in the first game and never recovered.
“We had different jerseys with some different numbers that I wasn’t aware of and that’s what messed us up,” coach Jaime Dovichi said. “Then we couldn’t sub in the right people.”
Dovichi has a team with three seniors and no one else with varsity experience. The roster includes seven sophomores.
“First-game jitters,” she said. “A lot of our younger kids never played in front of (a crowd) this loud — not that this gym isn’t loud enough already. So it was kind of intimidating for them.”
Central brought along a large student fan contingent and the noise rocked St. Edward’s gym. Senior outside hitter Sarah Norman kept the Green Wave within striking distance in both games with her six-kill, five-dig night.
“She’s going to be our go-to,” Dovichi said. “She’s definitely a leader, kind of the quiet type that’s always right there to step in and make plays.”
Senior setter Katie Ayello made 10 assists for the Green Wave (0-1).