St Francis outlasts RosaryRosary's Brianna Flagg battle St. Francis' Casey Salandra, near, and Carly Warner Wednesday in Wheaton.
Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 12, 2011 9:21PM
Volleyball wins don’t often come easy when long-time rivals Rosary and St. Francis square off in conference play and Wednesday’s match was no exception.
Even though the Spartans won in two sets – 26-24, 25-18 – they were tested by the Royals.
“In the second game we were up by eight at one time and what did we win by?” asked St. Francis coach Peg Kopec, struggling to remember the sequence of events after she called timeout when the visitors rallied from a 19-11 deficit to pull within 19-15 on setter Abby Konovodoff’s well-placed kill.
Reflecting on the set’s final seven-point margin, Kopec said, “Only by the grace of God. But it is a pretty big rivalry. I’m not surprised.”
She shouldn’t have been. Her team had eked out a 25-22, 23-25, 25-22 win at Rosary on Sept. 13th in the previous meeting.
Wednesday’s victory lifts the Spartans to 28-6 and 10-0 in the Suburban Christian Conference Blue and guarantees them at least a share of the title with two matches (Aurora Christian, Aurora Central) remaining. Marian Central currently has two league losses.
“Our conference is really tough this year,” said Kopec. “Rosary, Chicago Christian, Marian Central and us are all tough teams and Montini is on the rise. It would be a great accomplishment to get through conference undefeated this season.”
Rosary coach Lisa Kasper, whose team falls to 22-12 and 7-4, couldn’t agree more.
“It’s ridiculously tough,” she said, noting the Royals have one match remaining with young but talented Chicago Christian next week. “I’d be happy to be (8-4).”
The first set Wednesday provided an example of just how tough it can be. It featured 13 ties and seven lead changes and the largest lead was three points, held on three different occasions by St. Francis.
The last was at 23-20 but the Royals rallied to tie once more on kills by Brianna Flagg (four for the match) and Mia Wegman (match-high eight) and then took the lead, 24-23, on a kill by Kate Stefanski (five kills, three blocks).
St. Francis tied it on a tip kill by Haley Grable (five kills) and then won it on back-to-back unforced serve-receive errors by the Royals, their 10th and 11th errors of the set.
“We handed it to them,” said an exasperated Kasper. “On game point, you’ve gotta go all out.
“We were going up against their big hitters and they were tipping it a lot. That’s what you want them to do, but we made too many mistakes. We’d go up one or two points but then we’d miss a serve or make a hitting error. We could never go on that big run.”
The second set was more of the same, especially early when the hosts took the big lead.
“We again made too many mistakes and only our blocking was keeping us in the game,” said Kasper. “At one point, we went through a complete rotation and had scored only three points (and trailed 12-5). We were playing tentative but we got back in it by playing one point at a time.”
It was just too little, too late.
Daiva Wise added five kills, all in the first set, for St. Francis, which got 12 assists, four kills and four blocks from Carly Warner.