Immaculate Conception, Lisle move on
Some small-school girls volleyball regionals had first-round forfeits. The Class 2A Westmont Regional, though, is a different story.
“We’re getting better ... slow but steady, but in this regional you better get there in a hurry,” said Immaculate Conception coach Jean Field, whose Knights took out Aurora Christian 25-10, 25-11 in a Westmont Regional quarterfinal Tuesday.
“You look at some of the other regionals and it makes you sick,” she said. “Here, if you have one off game you’re done. You better be on your game every night.”
The victory by third-seeded Immaculate Conception (25-10), its fourth over Aurora Christian this season, sends the Knights into Wednesday’s 6:30 p.m. semifinal against No. 2 seed Lisle (25-10), a 25-12, 25-11 winner over Walther Lutheran.
Top-seeded Timothy Christian (24-3) plays No. 4 seed Aurora Central Catholic in the first semifinal at 5:30 p.m.
“There’s going to be some great volleyball in this regional,” Field said.
Tuesday, much of that great volleyball came courtesy of Immaculate Conception. The Knights rode the setting and hitting of junior Liz Martino (seven assists, two kills, ace) and her sister, sophomore Kim Martino (four assists, four kills), past a tenacious Aurora Christian team.
“They’re a very good, scrappy team,” Liz Martino said. “We definitely stepped up our intensity. When we played them before, they have been close games. This is a good win for us to come out and take it to them.”
Immaculate Conception built leads of 8-2 in Game 1 and 9-1 in Game 2, but the Eagles were able to extend the rallies and force the Knights to work for every point.
“We just tried to get our middles going, get everyone going, get them good swings so they could get their confidence going,” Liz Martino said.
Junior Emily Hartnett led Immaculate Conception with five kills and three aces, and sophomore outside hitter Delaney D’Amore added five kills and one ace. Sophomore Danielle Huseman had three kills for Aurora Christian (14-22) and junior Taylor Knauf added seven assists and a kill.
In Tuesday’s first quarterfinal, outside hitter Vanessa Abenante had 10 kills, middle hitter Darian Payne added four kills and three blocks and setter Anita Urban had 16 assists and three aces for Lisle, which overcame slow starts in both games.
“We’ve been on the side where we’ve played ugly and lost, so I’ll take ugly and win,” Lisle coach Matt Hrubesky said. “It feels a lot better to have another game, but there’s no tomorrow. Immaculate Conception is going to be there coming to play.
“We need to be ready to battle,” he added. “I love watching my kids fight, and no matter what the outcome, I love watching my kids go fight. Hopefully, we’ll bring our ‘A’ game tomorrow because we’re going to need it.”
Hrubesky and the Lions know a loss would be the end of the line for 10 seniors, including Abenante, Payne, Urban and Beth Plucinski.
“That thing is out there, it’s always kind of hanging out there in the air,” he said. “You try to not dwell on it, but make sure we understand if there’s a ball out there that can be touched, it needs to be touched. If you can touch it, it needs to be played. And if it can be played…
“We have to try to ramp it up a little bit,” Hrubesky said. “But you either play that way (all season) or you don’t.”