Sentinels step up, enjoy exciting season

Published: Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 4:41 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 4:44 p.m. CDT
(Matthew Piechalak)
Westmont senior Brianna Gilley serves during an Oct. 17 match against Lisle. Gilley earned all-conference honors and helped the Sentinels to the regional championship match. (Photo by Matthew Piechalak -

WESTMONT – This season for Westmont’s girls volleyball team was defined by grittiness and perseverance.

A year after a postseason trip to sectionals, the Sentinels battled through one of the more rigorous schedules in the Interstate Eight Conference, playing several Class 3A and 4A schools during a grueling regular season schedule.

“One of our goals the season was to step up and raise our competitive levels – in terms of our competition and overall play,” head coach Jennifer Gliwa-Bell said. “Of our 12 losses, nine were to 3A and 4A schools. It made for a lot of exciting games.”

The Westmont girls finished the regular season with a 15-12 overall record and a 6-2 mark in conference play.

Gliwa-Bell explains that even though the team failed to improve upon its 2012 season in which the team went 28-9-1 and won two tournaments and a regional title, there were plenty of high moments surrounding the 2013 season.

“Our win over Mt. Assisi in pool play at the IMSA tournament was really exciting,” Gliwa-Bell said. “We also had quality road victories at Lisle and Seneca. They both usually have a group of very vocal fans who can be a distraction if you let them. We did a nice job of blocking out distractions all year.”

The Sentinels were able to sneak past their rival again in the playoffs.

After earning a No. 2 seed and a first round bye in THE postseason, Westmont defeated Lisle 25-15, 25-11, earning a spot in the regional finals. There, they faced a top-seeded IC and dropped two tight sets 25-19, 25-21.

“We played with a little more consistency in the playoffs, and consistency is something that we were searching for all year,” Gliwa-Bell said.

Gliwa-Bell said her team must continue to develop younger talent, improve its defense and find that consistent level of play next season. That could be a challenge as a core group of seniors will graduate in the spring.

The Sentinels will say goodbye to a group of seniors that includes Vanessa Possidoni, Caitlynn Bourke, Haley Bueser, Brianna Gilley, Meg Frederics, Deja Williams and Rachel Kurt.

Bueser and Possidoni were three-time all-conference selections and both are exploring the option of playing college volleyball for local programs. This year, Gilley earned her first all-conference selection.  

“We have some really good players who will be graduating,” Gliwa-Bell said. “Possidoni ran our offense for the last three years while Gilley played outside all three years. Bueser switched between outside and libero and was named the team’s MVP this year.”

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