Gators battle through up and down week
In the penultimate week of the regular season, Guerin Prep’s girls volleyball team saw what it could accomplish when it does the simple things well and what a problem it is when it doesn’t.
Against Aurora Christian on Oct. 12, the Gators came out and won the first game and had match-point in the second before their serve receive went south. The game and then the match slipped away as the visiting Eagles won 25-27, 28-26, 25-17.
On senior night the following evening, the Gators recovered from some early problems to win in two straight 25-18, 25-10 over St. Joe’s as they wound down the home portion of their regular season schedule.
The Gators (16-11, 4-6) recovered from being down 9-3 at the outset to visiting St. Joe’s on senior night, but they were able to recover after a timeout. They tied the score at 9 and again at 12 before taking the lead on senior Olivia Binkowski’s serve. Junior Alex Bojan earned a pair of kills that gave the Gators a bit of a cushion.
Junior Sara Brodner converted one of her seven kills on the night with a well-placed set over the net to make it 19-17, and senior Molly Campbell hit a perfectly measured blast for a kill that made it 23-18. Guerin came out strong in Game 2 and left no doubt going up 10-3 and 18-6 before Brodner won a net battle to make it 23-8 ahead of the 25-10 win.
“We started out slowly, but we came back and kept pushing,” said Guerin head coach Dominic Di Silvio. “We started out having all our seniors in the game, and they did a very nice job. St. Joe’s kept the ball in play and kept up with us, but we didn’t let them back in the game after we took the lead and in the second game we served much tougher.”
Senior Jackie Bartnicki recorded 11 assists going 35-of-35 on her attempts while Brodner had 11 kills and Bojan notched four blocks. Senior Cassidy Tarpey and sophomore Becky Bartnicki each had a kill and were successful on each of their hit attempts. Despite not serving any aces Brodner also was perfect in getting her serve attempts in play.
The night before, things looked good in a Suburban Christian Conference tilt with Aurora Christian, but history repeated itself when the Eagles were able to stare down the Gators at match point and come back to win.
Guerin was up 15-7 in the first game but the Eagles recovered to tie the score at 18-all. The teams continued to exchange points tying at 21, 23, 24, and 25 before Binkowski’s ace won the opener 27-25. The Gators were down 5-1 early in the second game, but came back to be tied at 17 apiece. They were able to build a lead up to 23-19. A close call went against the Gators on match point, and the Eagles recovered from down 24-21 to tie it up at 24. Guerin served into the net to save the Eagles on the second match point while a long serve gave the Eagles their game point that they finished off.
Bojan started the third game with a big kill and the Gators looked on their way, going up 4-0. But the Eagles would tie it at six before taking control of the decisive game once they took a 12-8 lead. They would increase the lead to 20-13 before taking the finale 25-17 and winning the match.
“Their defense was very good, and their serving game kept us out of our serve receive system,” Di Silvio said. “We did the same thing at their place. We just couldn’t serve or serve receive.”
Kathleen Sweeney notched 15 assists on 55-for-57 hitting accuracy while Bojan recorded eight kills. Brodner had four kills and Becky Bartnicki had three of her own.
After the regular season finale at St. Edward in Elgin, the Gators will take part in the Arlington Heights Regional hosted by Christian Liberty Academy. They start in the semifinal on Oct. 25, against the winner of the match between the host school and Chicago Academy. So far the top-seeded Gators have knocked off each team in the regional but they haven’t yet played the regional’s second seed from Woodlands Academy in Lake Forest.
“I don’t even want to talk about that,” said Di Silvio about his team’s success against their regional competition this year. “We just need to stay focused and keep our serves in and serve receive. If we do that and play solid defense, we can compete with anybody.”
Coach Di Silvio is having tryouts for his F.O.C.U.S. (Fundamentals, Opportunity, Commitment, Unity, and Sportsmanship) program at Guerin continuing this weekend. Sunday, Oct. 23, for GIRLS 15s, 16s, 17s, 18s with registration at 1:00-1:30 followed by the tryout from 1:30-5:00.
It concludes on Sunday, Nov. 13, with a MAKEUP date for all levels from 12’s through 18’s with registration at 1:00-1:30 and tryouts from 1:30-5:00. Call or e-mail Coach Di Silvio at (847) 956-0612 or firstname.lastname@example.org for further program information.