The Trinity High School volleyball team has had a strong season, entering this week with a 19-8 record and in contention for the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference White Division title.
The Blazers’ performance has pleased coach Ken Uhlir, who admitted he didn’t know how his team would fare.
“It’s going better than I anticipated. At the beginning of the season, we weren’t sure what to expect,” said Uhlir, who recorded his 150th victory at Trinity on Sept. 30. “We’ve got a really strong defense that keeps us in games. Early on, our offense struggled because we had a lot of young kids playing, but they’ve picked it up and things are starting to balance out.”
Defense is Trinity’s strength, anchored by libero Eileen Weger, who Uhlir describes as hard-nosed and solid.
“She goes down and gets the ball,” he said.
On offense, outside hitter Meagan Murphy and middle hitter Maddie Breunig have increased their proficiency, and that has played a large role in the Blazers’ recent successful stretch.
“Meagan is thumping the ball and contributing a lot,” Uhlir said. “And Maddie has picked up her offense. At the beginning of the year, her hitting percentage was around .100, but I would say that over the last 12 matches or so, she’s hitting .400. She’s really turned it on, and that has led to offensive success.”
Trinity has been able to sustain its good run despite a lack of size. At 5-foot-10, Breunig is the tallest Blazer.
“We’re small but efficient,” said Uhlir. “[Size] was a struggle at the start of the season. In a match against Nazareth Academy, we had a hitting percentage of -.04. You can’t win like that. But recently, we’ve been hitting positive numbers.”
Now in his eighth season, Uhlir has had a good career at Trinity, but he is quick to credit the student-athletes for his success.
“I’m blessed,” he said. “I got blessed that [the late school president] Sister Michelle [Germanson] hired me when she did, and I’ve had great kids to work with. For me, the wins are a direct result of the hard work these girls have put in. Every year, we go in not knowing what expect, but they consistently work hard to have success.”
Looking ahead, the Blazers are seeded second in the IHSA Class 3A Nazareth Academy Sectional. With quality teams such as top-seeded St. Ignatius, the host Roadrunners, Fenwick and Payton Prep participating, Uhlir knows Trinity is in for a challenge.
“In our sectional, there are five or six teams that will compete for the title, and we got stuck playing one of them [Payton] in a regional final,” he said of the Blazers’ draw. “We’re focused on Payton right now. And if we get past that, we’re likely facing Nazareth in the sectional semifinal. There are no free passes, but we’ll be ready and hopefully can get it done.”
Before the postseason begins, there’s a not-so-small matter of winning the GCAC White championship. Trinity hosted Resurrection on Oct. 12, after Wednesday Journal’s press time. If the Blazers prevailed, they would clinch the title for the second time under Uhlir.
“The key to success is a balanced offense and a strong defense, and we’ve been having both,” Uhlir said.