Girls Volleyball: Joliet Catholic’s Christine Scheibe adapting, overcoming, winningChristine Scheibe is the Herald-News girls volleyball coach of the year. She is seen at Joliet Catholic Academy in Joliet, IL on Tuesday November 15, 2011 | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 16, 2011 8:08PM
On the surface, this was a disappointing season for the Joliet Catholic girls volleyball team.
Three state title-match appearances, two victorious, capped the preceding three seasons, so a sectional ouster wasn’t exactly what the Angels have come to expect.
But consider this: Joliet Catholic’s projected starting lineup was together for a grand total of one match during the regular season. Because of that, and the fact the Angels played one of the toughest schedules in the state, coach Christine Scheibe gets the nod as the Herald-News 2011 Girls Volleyball Coach of the Year.
“We only played one regular-season match with what I would consider our normal starting lineup, and that was the opener,” Scheibe said of a 25-22, 22-25, 25-11 victory over Mother McAuley. “After that it seemed there was one thing after another with injuries. So for us to get as far as we did and have the amount of victories we did, says something of the depth and tradition we have here at Joliet Catholic.”
It also says something of the coaching of Scheibe, who had to juggle numerous players in and out of the lineup.
Setter Lauren Robertson and outside hitters Kelly Feigh and Emily Schoenstedt all missed time because of injuries. Mallory Mangun and Alaina Ragusa stepped in at setter, and Julia Shemaitis was called up from the sophomore team in the final weeks of the regular season.
The Angels finally did get healthy by the postseason, but fell short in their bid for a seventh straight sectional title, losing to Wheaton-St. Francis 25-23, 25-19 in a Class 3A sectional final.
“In the playoffs we played what I considered to be the regular lineup, but we were lacking in continuity,” Scheibe said. “Winning is fun and getting downstate is fun. But it didn’t seem like it was meant to be this year, it was someone else’s turn.”
Still, the team finished 32-7, notching its seventh straight 30-win season and 11th consecutive regional title.
Of the seven losses, six were to teams in the Final Four for Class 4A or 3A, and the other to nationally ranked Newport Harbor, Calif.
In 12 years, Scheibe has had one losing season — her first. The Angels are 384-85-9 with three state titles, four state championship-match appearances and six trophies under Scheibe.
“I felt like I was coming into a program with a strong volleyball position,” Scheibe said of taking over as coach in 2000. “I wanted to model the Joliet Catholic program after those at Mother McAuley and Lockport.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to take six teams to state and want to do that on a consistent basis.”
It seems likely she will, for as long as she wants. But don’t expect to see Scheibe prowling sidelines for three decades, as did Nan Airola at Providence and Julia Hudson at Lockport.
“I don’t anticipate coaching for 30 years,” she said. “I think I’ll know when it’s the right time.”
When she’s done, Scheibe won’t look back on the wins so much as the young women who earned them.
“Hopefully, you teach them other things along the way too, like hard work, and being a good person and teammate,” she said. “I think one thing that has been awesome is all the girls that played and have wanted to come back to coach and be a part of the program. That’s a very complimentary thing.”