Joyce leads Mother McAuley
Updated: September 21, 2011 9:16PM
Jealousy? Envy? Misery?
There’s none of that on the Mother McAuley volleyball team.
Although its rare that a sophomore setter can take the reigns of a veteran team like Mother McAuley, sophomore setter Courtney Joyce has done just that and is a big reason why the No. 5 Mighty Macs improved to 6-2 with a 25-19, 25-20 win Wednesday at Providence.
“The thing about Courtney that we knew coming in is that she’s got a very mature approach to the game,” McAuley coach Jen DeJarld said. “I knew her focus was to get better and to be a varsity member. All summer long, she worked really hard to get to the point where she’s at.
“She definitely has a lot of athletic pure talent, but to be able to lead a team as a sophomore is tough,” the coach added. “We’ve had a lot of big matches already and we’ve seen some shaky times with her, but we’ve seen her work through it.
“She’s got to work through it. We’re not going to pull her out of that, She’s got to work through those hard times and it will pay off in the end. It already is paying off.”
Setting wasn’t always Joyce’s occupation.
“I played pretty much every position,” she said. “I started setting in eighth grade. I love setting. I always wanted to be a setter. I feel like I’m strong in both setting and hitting, but setting is more of a challenge for me.”
McAuley wasn’t challenged early in Game 2 Wednesday, especially with Joyce finding 5-foot-10 senior outside hitter Lizzy Scanlon with a series of flawless sets. Scanlon had seven kills in Game 2 as McAuley used a 7-0 run to break a 10-10 tie.
“She (Scanlon) can really rip it down the line,” said Joyce, who has watched the Mighty Macs make great strides since their opener against Joliet Catholic.
“The team is definitely developing,” she said. “The improvement since the first game until now has increased so much. Everything is coming together. There’s still a lot of work to do, but we’re definitely coming along.”
Providence (13-3) rallied after falling behind 17-10 in Game 2, closing to within 22-20 on a kill by Alyssa Maloney and a McAuley hitting error. But a kill by McAuley’s senior outside Peggy Clemons and consecutive aces by reserve setter Annie Myren prevented the Celtics from forcing a third game.
“I’m counting on my senior leadership,” DeJarld said. “I have six girls who have been with me since their sophomore year who are seniors now and they were starters, so I told them they have to take the stress off Courtney.
“They have to constantly talk to her and have open lines of communication with her when she’s up or down,” the coach added. “I think our seniors have helped her tremendously. I really, really like this team and we’re only going to get better. I’ve seen us make huge strides already.”
Scanlon led McAuley with 10 kills and two aces, Ryann Arundel added five kills and Lauren Grady had four kills. Marykate Mixen and Myren each had four aces, and Joyce finished with 20 assists and two kills.
“Courtney’s doing a really great job,” DeJarld said. “I’m expecting really big things from her. I’m trying to be as hands off as I can because I really don’t need to put as much pressure on her. She puts enough pressure on herself.
“But she is really a mature kid and able to handle a lot,” the coach added. “Sometimes with girls, there’s a pecking order and sophomores are afraid to be better than seniors. I’m lucky with these two (Joyce and middle hitter Gabrielle Ennis). They’re mature enough to handle their roles.”
Senior middle blocker Alyssa Podwell paced Providence (14-3) with six kills and two blocks and junior middle Alyssa Maloney added four kills and block. But the Celtics had trouble getting the ball to their setter, Krista Brakauskas, who had just 13 assists and just two to outside hitter Nora Mitros.
“Passing was not our forte this evening,” Providence coach Rachel Ellingson said. “Volleyball comes down to passing, period. If you can’t pass, you can’t play, and unfortunately that’s kind of what happened tonight.
“We know going through the season there are always things to work on,” she added. “They’re probably the best serving team we’ve come up against. They had a hard time with anything out of the middle, but it comes down to passing.”