Mother McAuley breaks out of slump
Updated: October 19, 2011 9:12PM
Mother McAuley has been in something of a funk recently, and Wednesday at Lyons seemed like a good time to snap out of it.
It just took a little longer than expected.
Junior Sydney McPhillips had 11 kills, Lizzy Scanlon had eight kills and sophomore setter Courtney Joyce added 30 assists and three kills as No. 5 McAuley (25-5) bounced back from an error-plagued Game 1 to defeat the host Lions 16-25, 25-23, 25-18.
Lyons (23-7) jumped out to leads of 14-8 and 21-13 in Game One and even two timeouts could not shake the Macs out of their doldrums.
“Yikes,” said Mother McAuley coach Jen DeJarld, who watched her team commit an uncharacteristic 13 unforced errors. “Where were we?
“We’ve just been really flat lately,” she added. “We had flat weekend last weekend, my outsides have been really struggling. I told the girls that now’s the time you’ve got to figure it out. It’s all about heart right now, and when you make me coach for effort, it’s not a fun way to coach.
“Good things don’t come out of my mouth when I have to coach for effort, and that’s what I’m having to do,” DeJarld said. “But I am really proud of how they pulled it out. They’ve been working really hard on blocking, and we did a good job on that.”
Lyons erased most of a 12-6 deficit in Game 2, pulling to within 23-22 on a kill by Alexis Viliunas. But McAuley survived on a block by sophomore middle Gabrielle Ennis. Lyons fell behind 15-7 in Game 3 and rallied to within 21-18, but McAuley closed out the match by scoring the final four points.
McPhilliips was a difference-maker in the final two games for McAuley. Shut out in Game One, the 5-foot-9 junior outside hitter had six kills in Game Two and five more in Game Three.
“I think I was overplaying it in the first game, and in my head I was worried about myself and not the team,” she said. “So I picked it up the second game. I didn’t think about myself, I thought about the team.”
Viliunas had 12 kills, two blocks and 17 assists, Laura Williams added nine kills, seven assists and an ace, and Alyssa Keeve added five kills for Lyons, which was coming off a win over Sandburg in the championship match of the Maine West tournament Saturday.
“We lost to Sandburg earlier in the season, so I think that shows we’ve been working hard in practice, working throughout the season trying to get better, becoming tougher and getting used to playing with the younger girls,” Viliunas said.
“I think the younger girls have been stepping up a lot, playing up to the varsity level,” she added. “I think it’s been helping our team a lot. Tonight is the first time we played with this lineup. We were without Hannah (freshman outside Juley). She’s injured. But everybody stepped up.”
And with three weeks left before a possible rematch in the supersectional, Lyons still has time to become an ever tougher foe.
“I think Lyons keeps improving like I knew they would,” DeJarld said. “I told the girls, state champions are state champions, and they have that taste in their mouth and they want to do that again. So they’re going to continue to get better and better.”