Marist rallies to top BenetMallory Salis (left) of Marist spikes the ball into the waiting hands of Benet blockers Jenna Jendryk and Meghan Haggerty. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 6, 2011 9:26PM
Marist did a little soul-searching after back-to-back losses to Sandburg in its Asics Challenge finale and to Providence on Tuesday. That, a few minor lineup changes and some timely help from Benet was all the RedHawks needed Thursday.
Kelly Marcinek had eight kills and five aces, Rachel Dalton had three kills and five blocks and Mallory Salis added seven kills as Marist (22-5, 5-1 in the East Suburban Catholic Conference) rallied to defeat Benet 13-25, 26-24, 25-22 in Lisle.
Marist used a 10-1 run to grab a 11-6 lead in Game Three, but Benet (19-3, 4-2) rallied behind Jenna Jendryk (12 kills including eight in the tiebreaker) to earn a 22-21 advantage. Marist pulled even on a net violation, and the match ended on a block by Marist’s Kirsten Ivkovic and two Benet errors.
“We’ve been struggling a lot and our biggest weakness is that we play good one game and then we let it go,” Marcinek said. “But we knew we had to do it tonight. We had a long talk after Tuesday’s game (a loss to Providence), came together as a team, worked hard in practice Wednesday and focused tonight.
“We knew we had to get the job done,” the 5-foot-10 junior added.
A subtle change on offense gave Marist a little more firepower in the backrow Thursday, but it was hardly evident in Game One. Benet raced to a 10-3 lead, and after Marist closed to within 18-13 on a kill by Elyse Panick, the hosts scored the final seven points including two kills and a block by Jendryk.
However, Marist did not panic. The RedHawks were just adjusting to their new lineup.
“We put whole new lineup out there,” Marcinek said. “We worked on this lineup yesterday. Our bench was our biggest support, that was No. 1 thing. Everybody was cheering.”
The RedHawks gave their bench reason to cheer in Game Two, taking an early 7-3 lead. However, the lead was short-lived. Benet pulled even at 8-8 on a block by Meghan Haggerty (eight kills, three blocks) and the rest of the game see-sawed.
A Haggerty kill gave Benet a 23-22 lead, but kills by Ivkovic and Rachel Dalton put Marist up 24-23. A Marist service error allowed Benet to tie the game at 24-24, but consecutive kills by Marcinek forced a third game.
“I don’t think it was any one particular thing,” Marist coach Natalie Holder said about what had been ailing the RedHawks in recent losses. “We had a to-do list. We went a lot harder in practice and we focused more on blocking and being mentally resilient.
“One thing we’re always good at is being mentally resilient, but it’s no secret, our defense doesn’t have (Caroline Niedospial) anymore,” she added. “So we had to figure out what’s the key with chemistry and aggressiveness, and that’s what we went with.”
Ashley Holder had 25 assists and Ivkovic added four kills and two blocks for Marist. Hannah Kaminsky had 32 assists and Maddie Haggerty added nine kills for Benet.
“That’s why you play three games,” Benet coach Brad Baker said. “You know Marist is going to come back strong in the second game. It happens all the time in volleyball. We needed to step up our game and Marist just played better in the second game.
“Our passing got a little bit worse and theirs’ got a lot better and it just continued into the third game,” he added. “Give credit to Marist. Their hitters stepped up when they needed them to. We got passive and started tipping and rolling, and you’re not going to beat a good team tipping and rolling.”