West Chicago wins, Dundee-Crown battles past LarkinLarkin's Olivia Kofie makes a diving attempt for the ball on Saturday at Bartlett's Invitational. | Karen Naess ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 10, 2011 11:31PM
Although Larkin’s rising volleyball program seemed to catch people by surprise at Bartlett in Saturday’s seventh annual John Domschke Memorial Volleyball Tournament, Dundee-Crown was not among them.
En route to 2-3 finishes in the six-team, round-robin format, the two teams met in a rematch of last year’s regional title match. The end result resembled last year, with the Chargers pulling out a 25-20, 27-26 victory.
“We were really thinking they would be out for revenge because of what happened last year at regional,” Chargers coach Tracy Williams said. “They have a couple really nice players and they are young, and it was a really hard-fought match.
“And these guys came out and did a great job against them.”
It was one of the few down moments for the Royals, who gave tournament champion West Chicago and Illinois-bound outside hitter Julia Conard a tussle for the second time in a week before the Wildcats pulled out a 25-15, 20-25, 15-10 win. The Royals knocked off the host Hawks 13-25 25-20, 15-10, and also beat Woodstock North.
Larkin came within two points of forcing a third game to decide second place against Kaneland but lost 27-26 and dropped into a three-way tie with Bartlett and D-C for third. The Hawks took third and Larkin fourth via tiebreaker formula.
“We had good moments, very good moments,” Larkin coach Marcin Dybka said. “Still, when we struggle it is because of a lack of communicating.
“We get down after losing two points in a row and get quiet, which doesn’t help. We need to talk out there. Then we will see more improvement”
Led by the net play of sophomores Olivia Kofie and Brianna Stewart, and setting of Lexi Smithberg, Larkin improved to 4-11 on the year.
“We worked really hard at Tuesday’s practice and sprinted and killed ourselves preparing,” Kofie said. “So I hope it showed up. I feel like we’re getting better — more than last year.”
Bartlett (7-9) still had title hopes with a 2-1 mark before losing to Kaneland in its next-to-last match, then getting blasted by Conard and West Chicago, which went 5-0 on the day.
“Against Kaneland I thought we played really well, by far the best match we’ve played in a while even though we lost,” said Hawks coach Brandon Mueller. “They came ready to play that match.
“The match with West Chicago, we came in a little intimidated and they’re a good team. Then we started off down 5-0 and we’re like, ’oh boy, we’re in trouble.”
West Chicago had 15 aces against Bartlett.
“I thought Katie Hrbacek stepped up for us, and Alexis Mason, as well as Tori Burke, she set really well against Kaneland,” Mueller said. “In that one we passed the ball. That’s the key for us. If we pass we’ll be all right.
“If we pass like we did against West Chicago, that‘s just getting aced out.”
D-C (3-6) came in just hoping for a win or two and Williams wanted to get a better look at players because she doesn’t have a set lineup yet. She found a lot to like in the win over Larkin and rout of Woodstock North.
“I changed my lineup around after the first match, moved my outsides to middle,” Williams said. “Alexa Shemanske and Rebekah Hischke did a real good job with transitioning from outside to middle.
“It’s rough to do.”
For the day, Hischke had 16 kills and four aces, Sam Pagano 10 kills, Shemanske eight kills and five aces, and Tess Barnes made 48 assists while serving a team-high six aces. Cassie Sommers had 34 digs.