Versatile Murray leads Wildkits to victoryWilmette 8/25/11 Loyola's Kaitlin Mohr (left) and Anna Pontarelli team up on a block against Evanston in their girls volleyball match won by Evanston. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 9, 2012 9:44AM
At 6-foot-3, and with a scholarship offer to the University of Pittsburgh, Evanston senior Casey Durham gets most of the attention.
But in last week’s win over Loyola, in Wilmette, the Wildkits showed that they are more than a one-girl club.
Martha Murray put Evanston’s opponents on high alert after she knocked down three late kills and posted a game-clinching block in a 25-14, 32-30 victory over the Ramblers. The match, populated by a vocal crowd, was the second of the season for both teams.
“That was awesome,” Murray said. “It felt like a championship. If we are this excited about the second game, I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season brings.”
Murray finished with a match-best 12 kills, four more than Durham. She also paced Evanston’s defense with eight digs.
But Murray turned the attention away from herself when talking about the back row.
“Our libero Charlotte (Runzel) earned her spot,” Murray said of the senior. “She played so well.”
Evanston coach Pam MacPherson reversed the spotlight back on Murray.
“She’s very versatile,” the coach said of the second-year varsity veteran. “We have a big hitter, a huge hitter, in Casey, but Martha complements her so well. Martha can be a go-to player in pressure moments because she can do so many different things.”
Evanston was in charge from the start. Up 13-10, the Wildkits used an 8-2 run to win the first game.
“I was not happy with how it ended, and I was not happy with how we played in the first game,” said Loyola coach Jenny Morris.
The two rivals traded leads in the second set, and Loyola looked ready to tie the match when it went up 23-20. But Evanston rallied with three points in a row, two on Murray kills, and the Wildkits fought off five match points from the Ramblers before scoring the final three for the victory.
“It was crazy,” said Murray, whose team opened the season with a straight-set win over Northside. “We tried to stay calm.”
Durham followed Murray with eight kills, and rookie setters Caroline Duke and Arianna Sala combined for 20 assists. Runzel had five digs on defense.
Evanston also finished 3-1 at Wisconsin-Whitewater’s tournament. The Wildkits (5-1) placed first in pool play before losing to Merril 25-18, 25-18.