The secret weapon : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|The secret weapon|
|Oswego East's Martinez records seven aces to help Wolves defeat Panthers |
|by Christine Bolin Dascher|
Yari Martinez, a senior on the Oswego East girls' volleyball team, went from almost being a team manager for the Wolves to setting the new program record for aces in a single match.
Martinez, who is a native of Puerto Rico, tallied seven aces in Oswego East's 25-16, 25-17 win over rival Oswego last Thursday on the Panthers' home court.
Martinez topped the old record of five aces after enrolling at Oswego East in January.
This was her first time experiencing the crosstown rivalry. She came to the volleyball team just days before the 2012 season started.
"They gave me a shot, and I made the team," Martinez said. "I know it was late, but I made it."
Martinez arrived so late that Oswego East coach Adam Thurlwell was originally going to give her just a manager spot on the team. She did even better than that when he let her try out, especially with her serve.
Martinez said playing with older players in Puerto Rico, plus practicing serving blindfolded is she developed her serving skills.
"(Martinez) stands all of 5 feet (tall), and when she came to me to try out, I thought, 'OK, let's see what this girl can do,'" Thurlwell said. "She has that nose for the ball and has a presence on the court. She has some of the best instincts on the team. She has a very good jump-serve...but I told her she had to earn her spot on the team."
Martinez, a defensive specialist, did not start against Oswego (7-6, 1-2), but when she started serving in Game 1, her efforts helped the Wolves (4-6, 3-0) take the lead.
After three early ties, Oswego served out of bounds, and Oswego East led 9-8 before Martinez entered the game and began to serve.
Martinez served the next four points, including an ace. After Oswego called a time out and the next serve went into the net, Oswego East led 13-8.
The Wolves never trailed after that. They added to their lead after another mini-run led by the serving of sophomore outside hitter Kelly Bertrand (game-high seven kills), along with two kills from senior outside hitter Brittany Warnecke and a tip kill from senior hitter Nicole Burge (seven assists, two blocks). By then, Oswego East led 23-15.
The Wolves were credited with the final two points on an Oswego net violation and a game-ending ace from Martinez.
Once again, Martinez stood out in Game 2. She stepped up to serve when the game was tied 4-4. Thirteen consecutive points and six aces later, Oswego East led 17-4.
Martinez' serve into the net is what stopped the run. By then, Oswego was deflated, but tallied the next three points.
"Oswego East exposed our weaknesses," Oswego head coach Erica Lorenz said. "We have things we need to work on. We have to practice being more mentally tough. You can't get more mentally tough than this rivalry.
"(Martinez is) is a great server. She did a good job."
Oswego, however, did score nine of the final 12 points, but by then, it was too late. The match ended on one of Warnecke's six kills. She also had a team-best nine digs.
"We had good moments, but not enough to pull through," Lorenz said. "The girls are always worried about the first four points and the last four points. It's just the in-between they keep forgetting about.
"I'm surprised at how well Oswego East played. I was disappointed at the way my girls played. They played well, we played poorly, and that's why it went to two games."
Junior defensive specialist Anna Matic had eight digs, senior middle hitter Jenny Greenwood had nine blocks and junior defensive specialist Emily Prystash posted 10 digs for Oswego.
The Wolves will face the Panthers again at Oswego East on Oct. 2 for their 'Volley for the Cure' match.
"When they come to our place, we know they are going to want revenge, and they'll be ready," Thurlwell said.
The Panthers bounced back after their loss to Oswego East, placing second place at the Yorkville Invite last Saturday.
Oswego went 3-1 at the tournament. The only loss was in the title game, when Plainfield North topped the Panthers, 25-23, 25-20.
"I was very pleased with our performance this weekend," Lorenz said. "The girls really played well and worked hard on playing their game. Second place in this tourney seems to be a trend for us. We did take second place last year and had to beat Yorkville to get into the first-place match."
Oswego topped Yorkville, 26-24, 25-23 and avenged an earlier-season loss to the Foxes, who beat them in two on Aug. 30.
"It was humbling to beat Yorkville because we lost to them in our season opener (at home)," Lorenz said. "The girls played so well."
Before that, Oswego defeated both Lisle (25-17, 25-8) and Streator (25-14, 25-7).
Yorkville ended up in third place after it beat Joliet West in two games.
Matic led the way in digs with 40, Greenwood had 26 kills and junior setter Jessica Johnson had 23 assists in the four games of the tournament.
On Tuesday against Minooka, the Indians won, 26-24, 25-21. The Panthers were led by Matic (24 digs), Prystash (12 digs), Greenwood (two kills, eight blocks) and Jordan Campbell (two kills, three blocks).
The Panthers resume conference play today, Thursday, at 5:30 p.m. at Plainfield East. On Tuesday, they host Plainfield South at 5:30 p.m.
The Wolves had Waubonsie Valley on the schedule on Sept. 5, but had to move it to Sept. 19 due to both schools hosting open house on the same night.
On Tuesday, Oswego East traveled to Plainfield East for a conference game and won, 16-25, 25-19, 29-27.
After tallying eight kills, Warnecke became the all-time kill leader in Oswego East's volleyball program's history. She also finished with 11 digs.
Bertrand finished with 12 kills and four aces, Hailey Aguilar posted 13 digs, Martinez added 12 digs and Julianna Wadsworth had 12 assists for the Wolves.
Oswego East hosts Minooka today, Thursday, at 5:30 p.m. in another conference clash. On Tuesday, the Wolves host Romeoville at 5:30 p.m.