Entering the IHSA Class 3A state tournament, Fenwick High School girls volleyball coach Kathleen O’Laughlin believed things were starting to click for her team.
In a sectional semifinal against rival Trinity High School on Oct. 31 at Little Village High School, the Friars scored the first eight points of the match en route to a 25-6, 25-18 victory. Fenwick (17-19), seeded second, advances to the sectional title match against top seed Nazareth Academy on Nov. 2.
“We were super prepared going in,” added Fenwick senior Erin East, who had a match-high eight kills along with a block. “We had our minds set on what we wanted and put all our energy out there.”
In the second set, Trinity (14-22) rallied and led a few times. But Fenwick gradually took control and pulled away to secure the win.
“No way is one of [Trinity coach Ken Uhlir’s] teams going to let us get out of here without giving a good fight,” O’Laughlin said. “We just had to focus on putting the ball away.”
Senior Maeve Welsh had 11 assists and two aces and junior Hazel Davis had three aces for Fenwick.
The Friars met Nazareth Academy in a non-conference match Oct. 10 in LaGrange Park and lost in three sets, 25-21, 28-30, and 20-25. East had 10 kills, 17 digs, four blocks, and an ace that day in the losing effort.
“We’ve got to play our hearts out and focus,” East said. “It was neck and neck last time, but I think we can take them.”
Junior Erin Whiteside led Trinity against Fenwick with four kills. Sophomore Claire Rambasek and junior Erin Weger each had three kills and senior Sophia Rodriguez added five assists for the Blazers.
“We were just outmatched. It’s been that kind of year,” Uhlir said. “We had our moments in the second set where we were solid. But we’re young and inexperienced. I started four girls that had never played varsity.”
McAuley ends OPRF’s postseason run
The Oak Park and River Forest High School girls volleyball team achieved its most victories in Kelly Collins’ seven seasons as head coach.
The Huskies’ ascent should continue.
Although this season ended with a 25-15, 25-15 loss to Mother McAuley in the Class 4A Lyons Township Sectional semifinals on Oct. 31, only three seniors were among the 10 Huskies who played – Reese Garland, Molly Brown and Maeve Moran.
Earning All-West Suburban Conference Silver honors for the Huskies (27-10) were junior outside hitter Grace Nelson and junior setter Kinsey Smith.
“They’re a great group of girls. [I told them] don’t let this one loss overshadow the successes that we’ve had this season and all of the growth we’ve had,” Collins said.
Nelson (9 kills, 7 digs), Smith (17 assists), Garland (3 kills), juniors Ella Hullinger (4 kills) and Kiera Kleidon (8 digs), sophomore Gabby Towns (3 kills, 2 blocks), and Brown and sophomore Tewa Woodson (ace each) led No. 4-seed OPRF against top-seeded McAuley (35-3).