Volleyball players explode in ecstasy when a seven-point hole shrinks to six, so the idea that St. Francis felt any heat in Wednesday’s see-saw match at Marian Central was tough to fathom.
A 25-20 loss in Game 1 sparked the Spartans more than it sunk them, an emerging trend in a season that moved to 7-0 after wins in Games 2 and 3 of the Suburban Christian Conference Blue opener.
“We’re one of those teams that if we lose the first game or something, we just need a kick in the butt and bring it back,” said St. Francis senior right-side hitter Grace Churney. “We’re a good team at coming back because we’re always the underdogs and coming back is one of our specialties. We practice it all the time in practice, being behind and coming back, so I think that really helps, and I think it’s the drive.
All the players on the team, we all have that drive that we want to win.” Marian had made that point debatable as it regrouped to take a 12-7 lead in the final game.
Things changed just as quickly, as Carly Warner dumped a quick set past the Hurricanes to earn a sideout. St. Francis embarked on a 12-6 run after that and, by then, felt plenty comfortable to hold steady down the stretch.
“They don’t give up. They’re strong that way,” St. Francis coach Peg Kopec said. “We’ll see what is going to happen. We’re 7-0, we’re going to a big tournament this weekend, we’re going down to Effingham, where we’ll see some really strong teams from Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, and Edwardsville is there. I think they’re ranked No. 2 in the state in the preseason poll, so we will see about that.”
Sounds like a challenge.
For the Spartans, that can only mean one thing.
Closing in: Two weekends remain in the race for the Sycamore Speedway Late Models points title, and St. Charles driver Steven Gardner finds himself firmly in the hunt.
With 190 points, Gardner stands just two points shy of leader Mikey Crowe of South Elgin. St. Charles resident Tim Ludke, who scored a features win two weekends ago, is in fourth, just eight points out of third place.
St. Charles’ Paul Ermel (fourth) and Burlington’s Jeff LeSage (eighth) are safe bets for top 10 Super Late Models finishes.
Points races in the Spectator, Powder Puff and Compact classes are set to conclude on Sept. 24 – one week after Late Models and Super Late Models – but no Chronicle-area drivers are in contention for those titles.
• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.