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Hilltoppers headed in right direction

Glenbard West sophomore Natalie Schilling goes up for a kill during a match against Lyons Township on Sept. 17.
Matthew Piechalak –
Glenbard West sophomore Natalie Schilling goes up for a kill during a match against Lyons Township on Sept. 17. Matthew Piechalak –

GLEN ELLYN – Having lost an outstanding senior class from a team that reached a supersectional in 2012, Glenbard West girls volleyball coach Pete Mastandrea admitted that he was slightly worried about this season.

But after closing out the summer in strong fashion, the Hilltoppers haven’t let up and now find themselves again ranked as one of the top teams in the state.

“Toward the end of the summer, we won a Thursday night summer league,” the coach said, “and we built some momentum from there.”

Winning their 21st match of the year on Monday with a two-set win over Willowbrook, Glenbard West is led by four-year varsity player Meg DeMaar, who is excelling at her natural position of libero after playing some matches at outside hitter in the past.

“I said before the season that if we had a great year, and she did what I thought she would do, then she would be an All-State, Player of the Year-type kid,” Mastandrea said. “She is that good.”

The Hilltoppers are also getting major contributions from sophomore outside hitter Natalie Schilling, who has quickly emerged as the team’s go-to player. Abby Winkler and Kate Wagner are handling the setting duties.

“Young kids who you bring up, you usually ask them to fill in,” the coach said. “Natalie is not filling in. She has filled a void that we really needed with her ability to put the ball away.

“We’ve really missed that in our program. We’ve had kids who could put the ball away but it was more crafty, creative and consistent. That was our motto. She is long and strong and hits hard.”

The squad has set big goals for the rest of the year, beginning with the West Suburban Silver conference, where Glenbard West is the defending champs.

“We are focused on conference,” Mastandrea added. “We want to defend our title and we take that seriously. We are also hoping to solidify the No. 1 seed in the sectional again and hopefully go deep into the playoffs.

“I’m ecstatic to be where we are at right now and I love the direction we are headed.”

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