Larkin sweeps season series with rival ElginLarkin's Anna Gaston (11) spikes into Elgin's Hope Deme (7) during the cross-town game at Larkin High School in Elgin, Ill., on Tuesday, September 13, 2011.
| Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media |
Updated: September 13, 2011 9:41PM
A conference victory two weeks ago over Elgin would seem like one to savor for Larkin’s volleyball team, since it came over its chief rival.
However, Larkin coach Marcin Dybka wanted his team to forget all about the earlier victory on Tuesday, and it proved very difficult to do when the teams met in a non-conference renewal of their rivalry at Larkin.
The Royals got caught by Elgin’s strong net play in the first game, but managed to regroup and came away with a 22-25, 25-17 25-18 victory behind 11 kills and three blocks from sophomore Brianna Stewart.
“Last time since we beat them, we thought it could be easier this time, and not extra points,” Stewart said.
The Royals (5-11) had to squeak out their earlier win 26-24 in the third game, but Tuesday Elgin had the R-word — “revenge” — on its mind.
“I told them before the match to forget the first game with Elgin that we barely won,” Dykba said. “And that we have to play way better because I knew Elgin wanted it — they were looking for revenge.”
A strong net game from senior outside hitter Elyssa Helker let the Maroons (3-14) go on a 13-2 run in the first game.
“That was probably our best blocking game of the year,” said Elgin coach Scott Stewart.
Finding consistency proved difficult to achieve in the final two games after the Royals changed up strategies and started tipping it just past the front wall. It provided the momentum change Larkin needed to roll to routine wins the final two games and record its fourth straight victory over the Maroons dating to last year.
“What killed us were those little tips and roll shots over our blockers,” Stewart said. “We were doing a really good job blocking and then they started tipping over us and our back row didn’t adjust.”
Elgin led 8-7 in the second game and still trailed only 13-12 when the Royals pulled away in a 7-2 run that included two kills each from Stewart, Anna Gaston, and Piper Johnson and one from Olivia Kofie. Gaston locked up the game with two stuff kills and a block kill for the final three points.
“Anna was being more aggressive and putting it right down to the floor,” Dybka said. “She wasn’t being aggressive enough in the tournament at Bartlett over the weekend but played a good match tonight.”
It was more aggressive play by Larkin to start the final game, resulting in a 9-2 lead and forcing a timeout. Stewart had two kills in the run and Lexi Smithberg and Stewart an ace each. The game wasn’t as close as the final score indicated as Larkin led 24-12 before enduring a six-point Maroons run and ending it on Jill Casebeer’s tip kill.
“Some games we play awesome in one aspect and something else is down,” Stewart said. “The day that we actually put those pieces together, we’ll have a pretty good team.”
Another aspect of Elgin’s play Stewart couldn’t complain about was serving. He let Maja Redburg serve extensively for the first time this season at a tournament last weekend and then on Tuesday she served for seven straight points in the first game.
“She did a nice job,” Stewart said. “Same thing with Kassie Rife.”
For Larkin, Casebeer had five kills and Gaston four, to go with Stewart’s 11. Smithberg had 25 assists and three aces, and Katie Plantz 18 digs.
The Maroons had seven kills from Helker and three blocks from Helker while Monica Stockman had four kills and five blocks, and Bree Hamilton four kills. Hope Demel made 19 assists and Taylor Powers made nine digs.