Trinity’s Lilli Puttin returns a ball against Fenwick in a girls volleyball non-conference match Sept. 21. The Blazers lost to the Friars 18-25, 14-25. (Carol Dunning/Contributor)

Entering this season, both the Fenwick and Trinity High School girls volleyball teams were looking to build off good 2021 seasons in which each won a regional title.

However, this year has been difficult for both, and the Blazers and Friars met in Oak Park on Sept. 21 with each looking for a victory to change momentum.

“Both of us have played tough schedules, and both of us have been down the last few weeks,” said Fenwick coach Kathleen O’Laughlin.

Led by Shannon O’Laughlin’s 10 kills, Fenwick snapped an eight-match losing streak with a 25-18, 25-14 win over visiting Trinity. 

“It felt really good,” said Shannon O’Laughlin. “We’re getting back into a rhythm these last few games and we’re looking for a big stretch heading into the playoffs.”

Injuries have hampered the Friars (6-13) this season, but with key players beginning to return, they’re optimistic about having more success over the final month of the regular season.

“We were down three players and replaced them with three freshmen, who did an outstanding job,” Kathleen O’Laughlin said. “But we were up against some big teams in [IHSA Class] 4A. They learned a lot.”

Fenwick jumped out to an 11-2 lead in the opening set and cruised from there. In the second set, Trinity (4-12) led 4-2, but the Friars erupted for a 12-2 run to take control and ultimately win the match.

“We’re young, and sometimes we play well, sometimes we struggle,” said Trinity coach Ken Uhlir. “If we can’t execute on the offensive side, we can’t win. We’ve got to be more disciplined.”

A bright spot for the Blazers was senior middle hitter Maddie Breunig, who had a pair of blocks and displayed tremendous energy.

“Maddie has been starting on the varsity for four years,” Uhlir said. “She’s usually reliable and did a nice job.”

Claire Rambasek had three kills and Flynn Puttin three assists for Trinity.

For Fenwick, Hazel Davis had 17 digs, Felicia Saunders 21 assists and Maeve Welsh three aces.

“It felt good having Maeve back on the court,” Shannon O’Laughlin said. “We’ve been missing her a lot.”

Both the Blazers and Friars hope to change their fortunes with the state playoffs looming late next month.

“We’re definitely becoming closer as a team and I think we’re going to be unstoppable once the playoffs come,” Shannon O’Laughlin said. 

“There’s nothing else we can do. We’ve got to keep working and practicing,” Uhlir said. “Our first goal is to win conference, and after that we’ll see what happens.”

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