In order to create balanced coverage in high school sports around the area, we’re running a section called, “What coach said.” Every week, we’ll cover a different sport and talk to each coach at the varsity level. This week, we’re highlighting girls volleyball. With one month left before regionals, there is plenty of work to be done, and seeding to be determined.

OPRF had a strong week after struggling in the McAuley Invitational on Sept. 20-21. They beat Downers Grove at home (25-17, 25-22) and traveled to Riverside-Brookfield before taking down the Bulldogs (25-20, 25-17). This is what head coach Kelly Collins had to say. 

On bouncing back from McAuley loss: “After that tough outing against McAuley, I think we put a stronger emphasis on serve receive. Whenever I go back and look at the film from when we have struggled, whether it is against McAuley or anyone else, that is what we have struggled with the most. When we can’t get that going, it doesn’t allow us many options to run and establish a tempo on offense.”

On how to capitalize on next month’s schedule: “We start five seniors and all of them have 2-3 years of experience on varsity. We have been up and down all season but when we are on and on the same page, we are incredibly hard to beat. The kids are starting to know what their potential is, and our main goal is to win. We look at our schedule, and maybe this is too presumptuous, but we don’t see anyone in the month of October who can stop us if we come out and execute our game plan. We’ve talked this season that we beat ourselves and we need to limit our mistakes.”

Over this past week, Fenwick lost a three-set thriller to St. Ignatius (24-26, 25-20, 25-27) and beat Whitney Young (12-25, 25-16, 25-21). Here is what head coach Kathleen O’Laughlin had to say about the matches and her current group.

On this past week’s matchups: “Ignatius is always going to be a big match for us, and I know both teams get pumped up for that. It’s always a good, old street fight when we play and both teams played at a high level. I think there are times when our youth shows since we start two freshmen, two sophomores and two juniors, but I was really impressed with how the team played in both matches. It was nice to beat Whitney in three [sets] after we had a slow start. They have a big, fast offense, and I think we adjusted during the match to take that one. We are right there, and we just have a few things to go back to the drawing board to work out.”

How this group reminds her of the 2012 team: “We started a group that was about this young in 2012. That group lost in the super-sectional in 2015, and they matured and progressed by the time they were seniors. This team kind of reminds me of that 2012 group. There’s some key positions where we are young, but they are working really hard and they play with a level of energy that is exciting for us as a program.”

Trinity’s varsity team has had its struggles this entire season. However, they have stayed in tight matches against elite teams and still have a shot at making noise once the regular season ends in a month. Here is what head coach Ken Uhlir had to say about his team.

On making up the loss of senior talent: “We are a young team and I expected some growing pains, but we need to refocus. We lost three seniors from last year, and two of them were key players for us. Emma Jacobs is still here. She just got her 1,000 career kill. Last year, she had 368 kills, and the two seniors that left combined for 400 and something kills. We needed to replace 450 kills from last year, and that is hard to do with a new group.”

Holding onto hope this season: “I am not throwing in the towel for this year. We have played competitively against everybody. We took a set from Nazareth who is one of the top teams in the state; we beat [OPRF] who is having a solid season this year; and we competed hard against 4A schools in the Lyons Township Quad Meet. I look at the everybody in our sectional and there’s nobody there we can’t compete with. I am not throwing in the towel.”

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