A winning week for Lady Panthers : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|A winning week for Lady Panthers|
|Oswego girls' volleyball team wins first match in new gym, takes YHS Invite title|
|by Christine Bolin Dascher|
Traci Weiss finally got to experience the Oswego/Oswego East rivalry for the first time as the Panthers' head girls' volleyball coach last Thursday night.
The experience was a positive one for Weiss, whose Panthers topped the Wolves, 25-15, 25-17 in Southwest Prairie Conference action at Oswego East.
"I've experienced the rivalry with the boys' teams (as an assistant coach), but it's nothing like this," said Weiss, a 1996 grad of Oswego. "The team did a fantastic job. We had a good scouting report on (Oswego East), and they followed it. They executed what we've done in practice, so that was good to see.
"We're getting there. We've been working on some things in practice and we're starting to execute on them. They are working hard. We have a pretty consistent starting rotation in now, so things are really starting to come together."
"This is probably the most exciting win I've ever been a part of," added Oswego senior libero Emily Prystash. "I'm so happy it happened my senior year. We just all came together, and we've been practicing so hard. It's just so exciting. Everyone was just really encouraging and really wanted this."
Just two days later, Oswego won Yorkville's Invite. After Tuesday's SPC loss to Minooka, the Panthers are now 9-4 overall and 2-1 in the conference.
After Oswego East's win over Plainfield East on Tuesday, the Wolves are now 4-6 overall and 2-1 in the conference.
Oswego East was coming off a huge three-game conference win at Plainfield Central just two days earlier. Wolves' head coach Adam Thurlwell thinks that might have had something to do with the loss to the Panthers.
"We came off an emotional win and just weren't locked in," Thurlwell said. "We never really found our groove. I think we sort of took for granted we played well (against Plainfield Central) and we thought we were going to play well again. We weren't locked in and didn't necessarily have that desire to win. I think they learned you can have a great match - and that's great - but you can also come out flat the next time. You just have to work at it. We talked about coming out fired up and coming out with authority, but we came out flat.
"But we have to credit Oswego. That's a talented team. It's not like we came out flat against a team that's not very good. Oswego has talent. They came out ready to play, and we didn't."
After five early ties in Game 1, Oswego broke a 7-7 knot with four straight points behind the serving of junior outside hitter Payton Poulter, Oswego East errors at the net and a kill and block from senior right side hitter Jessica Johnson.
Oswego East got within 19-14 after a kill from junior outside hitter Lauren Schultz, but after that, Oswego managed to score the next six of seven points to close out the first game.
Oswego East freshman right side hitter Sarah Schultz kept her team alive with a kill that put the score at 24-15, but the game-ending point arrived on an error made by the Wolves.
"The girls did a great job (in Game 1)," Weiss said. "It was an emotional game, but they played really consistent throughout. It's really easy in a game like that to go up and down, but we were even-keel. We played like the better team the whole time, and ended up coming out on top."
There were nine ties in Game 2, with the last one at 13-13. Oswego East, however, made three straight errors that pushed the Panthers ahead. Oswego East junior outside hitter Kelly Bertrand posted a kill to move the score at 17-14, but that was as close as the Wolves came to catching up.
Oswego followed that by scoring five of the next six points and ended the match on one of freshman middle hitter Holly Behrends' four kills.
"There were too many unforced errors in the match that really hurt our momentum," Thurlwell said. "We never really seemed to pick it up in either game. It was 13-13 in that second game, and it looked like we were losing. That was the vibe. When they lost trust in one another, it just never clicked. When we have all cylinders firing, this is a pretty good-looking team."
Once again, Oswego gave itself a balanced attack. Sophomore right side hitter Katelyn Burke led the way with six kills, and Johnson, freshman middle hitter Holly Behrends, senior outside/middle hitter Sarah Frantik and junior middle hitter Jordan Campbell each posted four kills each.
Junior defensive specialist Megan Skibinksi led Oswego in digs with nine and both Prystash and Poulter each had seven digs. Johnson had 11 assists, and Burke added six.
"We've been working really hard at getting our middles involved, and we've been working really hard in practice on our passing," Weiss said.
"(The balanced attack) just reinforces just how strong of a team we really are," Prystash added.
Kelly Bertrand, Oswego East's all-time kill leader, led the way in kills with five. Senior right side hitter Ashlee Williams added four kills, junior libero Hailey Aguilar posted 12 digs, junior middle hitter Rachel Vander Wagen had two aces, senior setter Nicole Bertrand had six assists and junior middle hitter Bri McWaine led the Wolves with two blocks.
"We are still gaining experience," Thurlwell said.
"We have some experience, but I think the girls are still gaining confidence in one another. They have to learn how not to get down on ourselves."
Oswego East will get another shot at the Panthers on Oct. 8 at Oswego.
"That's what I told them," Thurlwell said. "The sweet thing about volleyball - unlike football or other sports like that - is that you get the chance for revenge. It's not often that happens in sports, so enjoy it."
Oswego: At Yorkville's Invite, the Panthers topped the host-Foxes in the title game, 25-12, 14-25, 25-17. This was the second time Oswego topped Yorkville in three games this season.
"It was a great team win," Weiss said. "We sort of blew away everyone in the morning in pool play, so Yorkville was a huge game for us."
Mendota defeated Plainfield South (25-16, 25-21) for third place, Plano beat Lisle (25-16, 25-14) for fifth place and Streator defeated Sandwich (25-21, 25-13) for seventh place.
In White pool play, Oswego topped Mendota (25-10, 25-8), Lisle (25-6, 25-11) and Sandwich (25-11, 25-7). In four total matches, Johnson ended up with 32 aces, 19 kills, 30 assists and 16 digs. She was named the tournament MVP.
Prystash ended up with 43 digs. She was also named to the All-Tournament team.
"That's so great Jessica got MVP - both her and Emily played so well," Weiss said.
Burke had 15 kills, 28 assists and 15 digs and Poulter finished with eight kills and nine aces for Oswego.
On Tuesday, Minooka topped Oswego, 21-25, 26-24, 25-12. Johnson had seven kills, 14 assists and 15 digs while Prystash posted 24 digs for the Panthers.
Next up for Oswego is two back-to-back conference contest. First is Plainfield East today, Thursday, at home at 5:30 p.m. On Tuesday, the Panthers will face Plainfield South on the road at 5:30 p.m.
Oswego East: After Oswego, the Wolves beat Plainfield East, 17-25, 25-23, 25-21. Kelly Bertrand posted 10 kills and Aguliar had 13 digs.
Oswego East resumes conference action today, Thursday, at Minooka at 5:30 p.m. On Tuesday, the Wolves will head to Romeoville for another 5:30 p.m. conference contest.