ST. CHARLES – While the student cheering section might have been a little off key at Tuesday’s girls volleyball match at St. Charles East, the Saints were in near perfect harmony.
Inspired by Red, White and Blue Day, Saints supporters joined in the singing of the National Anthem before the contest, changing the last line to "home of the SAINTS!" to make clear who they were cheering for – and the fact that not all of them were natural singers.
The Saints, on the other hand, were in tune regardless of who was on the court as they defeated West Chicago, 25-16, 25-18 in an Upstate Eight Conference River match.
”It’s only the third match of the season and to be able to play other kids and the tempo and energy doesn’t change – that’s a really nice thing to have,” Saints coach Jennie Kull said. “This team gets along really well and I think the chemistry doesn’t change when you put different people out there.”
“It such a nice compliment to have anyone go in and have the confidence to play,” Kull added.
Senior outside hitter Meagan Smith led East with seven kills.
“I think everyone is blending well,” Smith said. “I think we all have really good chemistry so we work really well and we know each other on the court.”
Early in the first game, the Wildcats were able to keep pace with the Saints, tying the game at 6. East (3-0, 1-0 UEC River) went on a 14-4 run to give the Saints the biggest lead of the contest at 20-10, and East was able to put the game away.
“We started off a little slow but I think we came back and started to play our game,” said middle blocker Mikaela Mosquera, who tallied five kills and three assists. Teammates Megan Schildmeyer and Riley Schumacher also contributed five kills.
Again in the second game, West Chicago (0-3, 0-1 UEC River) was able to keep pace early but eventually East pulled away.
The comfortable leads gave Kull a chance to try out new plays on the court.
“At this time of the season you want to try different things – getting different options going on, so we were trying to run some different things,” Kull said. “The results were very good.”
It was the UEC River debut for youthful West Chicago.
“I think they handled themselves pretty well. I thought they stayed calm and at times played right with them,” said Wildcats coach Kris Hasty about her squad that features three sophomores and a freshman in the starting lineup. “I think it’s just a matter of experience and having more confidence in ourselves.”
Anne Hughes had eight digs for the Saints.
Lucy Diaz had three kills and six digs for West Chicago. Teammate Laura Katarzynski tallied one kill, three digs and two blocks.