The Oak Park and River Forest High School girls volleyball team is seeded fourth at the IHSA Class 4A Lyons Township Sectional with a 26-9 record.
The Huskies opened the postseason breezing past Lincoln Park 25-6, 25-9 in the regional semifinals on Oct. 25. The Huskies advanced to face No. 5 seed Whitney Young, which defeated Riverside-Brookfield for the regional title Oct. 27.
The Lyons sectional is stacked with championship-caliber squads, but OPRF coach Kelly Collins is looking ahead to the challenge.
“It’s not an easy road at all,” she said. “You’ve got to focus on the first team in front of you and can’t look too far ahead. But we’re feeling confident we can make a deep playoff run.”
The Huskies finished the regular season on a strong note. At the Glenbard East Autumnfest Tournament on Oct. 14-15, OPRF knocked off Benet Academy, Huntley, and Normal Community before losing a competitive final to Barrington.
“We played some of the best teams in the state that weekend,” Collins said. “We proved to ourselves and everyone else that we’re one of the top teams as well. The kids have confidence, but with that comes a target on our backs. We need to realize everyone’s going to be out to beat us.”
More confidence was gained in an Oct. 18 match as the Huskies rallied to defeat visiting York 24-26, 25-21, 25-20. Grace Nelson had 23 kills, 13 digs, and an ace that gave OPRF the victory.
Classmate Kinsey Smith, who transferred from Whitney Young, had 33 assists, many of which set up several Nelson kills.
“It’s awesome,” said Smith of playing with Nelson. “Grace is the best teammate. She’s hardworking and I’m glad we’ve been able to transfer our club chemistry into high school.”
Fenwick looks to notch regional title
In Class 3A, Fenwick High School is the No. 2 seed at the Chicago Little Village Sectional. The Friars defeated No. 15 seed ITW Speer 25-6, 25-9 in the regional semifinal on Oct. 25, setting up a regional final game against No. 6 Westinghouse on Oct. 27 at Fenwick.
With the regional semifinal win Fenwick’s record improved to 15-19. But the Friars came into the postseason with momentum, having won the Lake Park Tournament on Oct. 22.
“I think we’re better than our record shows,” said Fenwick coach Kathleen O’Laughlin, who will retire at the end of the season. “We had three players injured early in the year. But we’re excited and we like how we feel heading into the playoffs.”
Fenwick is led by seniors Erin East (team-high 154 kills, 23 aces, 165 digs) and Shannon O’Laughlin (98 kills, 19 aces, 116 digs). The Friars have also gotten contributions from seniors Annie Larson (18 blocks), Felicia Saunders (40 kills, 17 aces, 11 blocks)and Maeve Welsh (77 kills, 18 aces, 108 digs) as well as juniors Hazel Davis (252 digs) and Lola Tortorello (69 kills, 17 aces, 11 blocks, 123 digs).
O’Laughlin is appreciative of the No. 2 seed, but with defending Class 3A champion Nazareth Academy likely waiting in the sectional final, she also knows the Friars have their work cut out for them.
“It’s not an easy road to get to the sectional final. We have to take things one at a time,” she said. “We have to keep our momentum from this past weekend going. We need to keep our energy level up; if we maintain our enthusiasm, I think we’ll see some special things from this group down the stretch.”
Trinity starts postseason with win
The Blazers (13-21) are the No. 3 seed in the Little Village Sectional and are also hosting a regional.
Trinity opened the postseason on Oct. 25 with a regional semifinal win over Noble/Pritzker 25-6, 25-8. They’ll meet No. 5 seed Elmwood Park for the regional title on Oct. 27.