Girls Volleyball: Nazareth outlasts Joliet Catholic in three sets
By Phil Brozynski For Sun-Times Media October 3, 2013 10:12PM
Updated: October 3, 2013 10:34PM
Nazareth’s Kristina Elstner plays the middle almost by default.
“We don’t have a middle blocker,” Nazareth coach Wayne Saunders said. “Tina (Elstner) is not a middle blocker. We line up (5-foot-6 outside hitter) Troi Sharpp at middle and she never blocks the middle. We’re just doing it with mirrors, really.”
Elstner gave a pretty fair impression of a middle blocker Thursday against visiting Joliet Catholic, however. She won a mad scramble at the net at match point to send Nazareth to a 25-18, 24-26, 25-20 victory.
The kill was just her fifth of the match.
“This is my first year of varsity so I was pretty nervous after we lost the second game,” Elstner said. “But we had a lot of positive energy and started out strong in the third game, We just never gave up. It feels good.”
Nazareth (13-2, 2-2 East Suburban Catholic) appeared headed for a straight-sets win leading 24-20 in Set 2. But Joliet Catholic’s Mary Murphy went to the service line after a kill by Madeline Grimm and ignited a 6-0 run with a pair of aces.
“When Mary Murphy gets that look in her eye, the other team is in trouble,” Joliet Catholic coach Chris Scheibe said. “When she went back to serve that last time, she had that look in her eye. That’s just the way she is. She’s a Murphy in that respect.”
While another team might have folded after that crushing loss, particularly a team with three sophomores and two juniors in the starting rotation, Nazareth rebounded and built a 17-11 lead in Set 3 on a back-row kill from Samantha Brown (17 kills, 11 digs, 2 aces).
An ace by libero Linnea Rohrsen and a hitting violation against Joliet Catholic extended Nazareth’s lead to 23-17, but two kills by Grimm sandwiched around an error by the Roadrunners got the visitors to within 23-20.
“I was less worried than I was in the second game,” Brown said. “We just let up at the end of the second game and our passing was off a little. We got shaken up. We don’t do that. Usually, we’re really calm. I think we just really wanted to beat them.”
Setter Emma Decker ended the Angels’ run with a block and Elstner did the rest, giving Brown her first win over Joliet Catholic in her four-year varsity career and Saunders’ his first win over the Angels in nine years at the school.
“We came close my freshman year during sectionals, but no, we never beat them,” Brown said.
Julia Saunders had 11 kills and seven digs for Nazareth, which also got four kills and nine digs from Maeve Grimes, 37 assists from Decker and 16 digs from Rohrsen.
Julia Shemaitis led Joliet Catholic (11-4, 1-2) with 12 kills, Grimm added 10 kills and Murphy had 21 assists, five kills and two aces. Libero Mallory Krzysciak added 20 digs.
“I thought we showed fight throughout the whole match,” Scheibe said. “I can’t question my team’s effort. Our issue right now is passing the ball. When we pass the ball and are able to run our offense, I think we’re as good as any team out there.
“The key is passing the ball, and that’s our weakness right now,” Scheibe added. “That’s something we’ve been working on hard in practice. It’s getting better at times, but it’s still not there.”