The volleyball postseason begins on Monday for all classes. Downers Grove North, Downers Grove South and Westmont are all hoping to see each other at Redbird Arena in Normal, home to the state finals for all classes Nov. 15 and 16.
Downers Grove North
First Game: 6 p.m. Tues., Oct. 29, vs. No. 15 Argo or No. 18 Proviso West
Outlook: Even though Downers Grove North often starts four sophomores, the Trojans boast the skill and senior leadership necessary to win in the playoffs. They earned the No. 2 seed in their sectional thanks to success against a demanding schedule, defeating Naperville Central, Metea Valley and Wheaton Academy, among others.
The Trojans are led by senior captain Katherine Mahlke, a four-year varsity starter who has committed to play for the University of Michigan next year. Mahlke recorded 13 kills in a win over Benet Academy at the Autumnfest Tournament over the weekend. Sophomore setter Mary Helen Beacom has done an admirable job running a 5-1 rotation after managing a 6-2 set as a freshman last year. On defense, 6-foot-4 middle hitter Lexi May has shown improvement throughout the season and currently leads the team in blocks in her first varsity season.
North will play either Argo or Proviso West in a regional semifinal Tuesday. If the Trojans win and the seeds hold, they would face Young for the regional title on Oct. 31.
Downers Grove South
Regional: St. Ignatius
First Game: 7 p.m. Mon., Oct. 28, vs. No. 21 Simeon
Outlook: It has been an up-and-down season for Downers Grove South, which notched a handful of notable victories but enter the postseason as the No. 11 seed in the sectional.
Katie Vondra has been a huge asset to the team on both offense and defense. As of Monday, she had 243 kills, 31 aces, and 192 digs. Senior Jen Graham has also stepped up on the outside, adding 171 kills. Libero Jess Faber has led the defense with 258 digs.
The Mustangs will open regional play against Simeon on Monday at St. Ignatius in Chicago. If they win, they will face No. 5 Lyons Township in the regional semifinal Tuesday. The regional championship match is Oct. 31.
Regional: Aurora Christian
Sectional: South Beloit
First Game: 7 p.m. Tues., Oct. 29, vs. No. 3 Lisle or No. 6 Luther North
Outlook: A year after a trip to sectionals last year, Westmont is looking for more of the same in the postseason. In order to get ready for the playoff grind, the Sentinels played several Class 3A and 4A schools during a grueling regular season schedule. Of Westmont’s’ 12 losses as of Monday, nine came against either 3A or 4A opponents.
The Sentinels’ senior leaders seem poised for another postseason run. Caitlynn Bourke, Haley Bueser, Brianna Gilley, Rachel Kurt and Vanessa Possidoni have all started on Westmont’s varsity team since their sophomore years while seniors Meg Fredricks and Deja Williams have chipped in on both the offensive and defensive end.
As a No. 2 regional seed, the Sentinels have a first round bye, but could see rival Lisle in the second round. Should the team make it to the regional final, it would most likely face No. 1 IC Catholic in the Oct. 31 regional title match.