Oswego holds off Oswego EastOswego East players celebrate a point in their favor during their match against Oswego High School on Thursday. Jeff Cagle / For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 29, 2011 10:00PM
With two evenly matched teams and a crosstown rivalry involved, Thursday’s volleyball match between Oswego and Oswego East had the makings of a good one.
The two teams didn’t disappoint on Volley for a Cure night as they engaged in a fierce back and forth battle. After East won the first set by a 25-22 score, the host Panthers turned the tables by the same count in the second set and then closed out the match by winning the third set, 25-20.
Hustling and keeping several balls alive and ultimately converting them to scores, the Wolves stretched a lead in the first set to as many as eight points (15-7 and 22-14) before holding off a late rally that saw the Panthers cut it to 24-22 on back-to-back kills by Shelby Ritsema (nine kills).
Brittany Warnecke had five of her eight kills in that set while Jordan Reifsteck added two huge aces late.
“When we have momentum and we have a lead, we are a tough team,” said East coach Adam Thurlwell.
East did battle back in the second set and looked like they might close out the match as they scored nine straight points to rally back from a 19-12 deficit to take a 21-19 lead. Warnecke served up four aces in that span and the Wolves looked to have control.
But showing a little more poise than they did earlier in the match, the Panthers scored six of the next seven points as Katherine Daley (seven kills, five blocks) had three big kills and Oswego was able to even the match after a few tense moments.
“We were a little too excited (early), we were kind of spastic,” said Sydney Volovski, who had six kills, 11 digs and 19 assists. “Once we got the lead (for good) we got the calm confidence we needed and picked it up and ran with it.”
That they did in the third and deciding set, never trailing and leading by as many as seven points (23-16) late in the match. Pressed into playing from behind, the Wolves made several unforced errors and the Panthers took advantage of that, as well as their size up front, to seize the match.
“It was a matter of playing not to lose and playing to win,” Thurlwell said. “They left it on the court and played hard, but when you play the way we do the chance of errors is higher. You have to play almost errorless when you are undersized like that, and unfortunately we had too many.”
Kelly Bertrand also had eight kills for East, which fell to 5-10 overall and 3-5 in Southwest Prairie play, while Aliyah Everson had seven kills and 16 digs. Natalia Mendieta had a solid all-around match with six kills, 23 assists and 12 digs.
Oswego improves to 9-14 overall and 5-3 in the SPC, and with the win swept the season series from its rival. Destiny Stuersel had six kills, nine digs and 17 assists for the Panthers, Amy Holuch added 14 assists and 10 digs and Anna Matic posted 18 digs.
“The seniors knew this was the last time they would see them, unless they get in our regional, and they wanted it bad,” said Oswego coach Erica Lorenz. “It comes down to desire and they just didn’t want to lose to Oswego East.”