Senior Kinsey Smith always contributes to the Oak Park and River Forest High School girls volleyball team with her setting. But the Davidson recruit also establishes the tone with her serving.
Smith helped the Huskies grab early leads in both sets Monday in defeating Hinsdale Central 25-19, 25-7 in the Class 4A Hinsdale Central Sectional semifinals.
“Getting the team out of system, serving aggressively, taking players out is a big role. And that helped us win tonight,” said Smith, who had 12 service points and two of the team’s five aces, besides 19 assists.
“Everyone came out with a lot of energy and intensity. Everything just came together. Everyone came and did their part, which is really big.”
Other contributors included Grace Nelson (11 kills), libero Keira Kleidon (10 digs), Gaby Towns (4 kills, 4 blocks), Ella Hullinger (3 kills, 2 aces), Samantha Shelton (2 kills) and Tewa Woodson (5 points).
The Huskies (31-6), seeded No. 1 in the sectional, face No. 2 Willowbrook (37-1) for the sectional title Wednesday. OPRF handed Willowbrook its lone loss 25-17, 24-26, 25-10 on Sept. 29.
Last year, OPRF lost to state champion Mother McAuley in the sectional semifinals. This would be the Huskies’ first sectional title since 2013 and second since the 1988 Class AA state runners-up.
“Since August we’ve been talking about that sectional loss to Mother McAuley. We really wanted to make a statement coming out here,” OPRF coach Kelly Collins said. “So proud of the team for coming out and executing the game plan.”
After a sideout, Smith served OPRF to a 5-0 lead in the first set. As the first server of the second set, she gave the Huskies a 7-0 lead behind two aces and a kill and block assist from Towns with Woodson.
The Huskies had extra focus, knowing they needed three sets to beat No. 4 Hinsdale Central (24-12) on Sept. 5.
“Definitely our aggressive serving, especially from Kinsey, gave us that nice little lead and cushion, but we made sure to remind them the game wasn’t over,” Collins said. “Credit our serving. They did a great job of taking Central out of their system.”
Fenwick, Trinity seasons come to an end
In an IHSA Class 3A regional final on Oct. 26, a pair of big runs bookended Fenwick High School’s season-ending loss.
Visiting St. Ignatius scored the first eight points and the final six of the match to defeat the Friars (8-21) by scores of 16-25, 17-25.
“We knew it was going to be a tough battle,” said Fenwick coach Tee Pimsarn. “All week, we talked about being fast at the beginning and the end, but that slow start hurt. That second set, gosh, we battled, but only had one sub left [at the end] and had to keep people in.”
Bella Gray had five kills; Marcelina Kozaczka four kills; Lola Tortorello three kills and eight assists; Lizzie Scharpf six assists and an ace; and Hazel Davis six digs for Fenwick.
In the regional semifinal Oct. 24, the Friars routed UIC Prep 25-4, 25-10. Kozaczka had seven kills, Jordan Rossi five kills, Gray and Tortorello four kills each; Lily Boyle and Kate Williams three kills each; and Ava D’Alessandro two aces.
Davis, Scharpf, and Tortorello are among six seniors who will be lost to graduation. But with 12 returnees, including six underclassmen, Pimsarn feels Fenwick’s future is bright.
“We’re proud of our kids,” he said. “I wish people could see how much they’ve worked and improved. Their expectations will be higher next year.”
Also in 3A, Trinity High School lost the Hancock Regional final Oct. 26 to St. Laurence 20-25, 20-25. The Blazers finished 15-19 for the season.