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Michigan recruit leads young Downers Grove North volleyball

Published: Friday, Sept. 6, 2013 4:00 p.m. CDT
(Matthew Piechalak)
Downers Grove North sophomore Madison Sturm sets the ball during practice on Friday, Aug. 30, 2013. Matthew Piechalak –

DOWNERS GROVE – Downers Grove North started the 2012 season 0-8 but regrouped to post a .500 record. The way head coach Mark Wasik sees it, the Trojans should be able to avoid a similarly slow start this season.

“We have seven players coming back, so we’re certainly ahead of where we were last year,” Wasik said. “We’re still relatively young, but we start three sophomores that have experience.”

Mary Helen Beacom, Leah Rogoz and Madison Sturm comprise the experienced sophomore group, but the player to keep an eye on is Katherine Mahlke, a 6-foot-2 senior outside hitter who has committed to the University of Michigan. Playing varsity last year, Beacom ran the 5-1 offense and set for Mahlke, Rogoz and Sturm. Sophomore Lexi May will join her classmates on the varsity level.

While Wasik said there is always room to grow no matter the level of experience, having sophomores that have seen the floor can only be a good thing.

“They were players with no experience last year and now they have a reference point,” the coach said. “Now you’re talking about sophomores that have been through this for a year.”

After finishing strong last season, Wasik hopes his team can regain that momentum as it looks to enter the fray for the West Suburban Silver crown and a regional title. To test the Trojans, Wasik has loaded the schedule with top-flight teams (Benet, Naperville Central and Hinsdale South) and tournaments (Mother McAuley, Wheaton Warrenville South and Glenbard East). North will look to defend its Waubonsie Valley tourney title of a year ago.

“We have a nice group and the team chemistry is really good,” Wasik said. “I think we can be competitive and have a successful season.”

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