PALOS HEIGHTS – Because of a malfunction with Chicago Christian’s public address system, the Knights’ student section took the lead and helped the crowd freelance the national anthem.
The Rosary volleyball team kept to its script the rest of the way, beating perennial Suburban Christian Conference power Chicago Christian on Monday, 26-24, 25-17.
After the Royals lost the first meeting on their home floor, first-year Rosary coach Rachel Hartmann passed out scouting reports to her team at practice Saturday detailing all of Chicago Christian’s tendencies.
The Royals’ preparation paid off in a big way as they scored a huge win playing in a tough environment.
“It’s a loud gym and my voice doesn’t carry, so it’s challenging for me, too,” Hartmann said. “We had a game plan, and we executed it well. We didn’t play well the first time so we came in with a chip on our shoulder. We knew who to go after and who to stop.”
Hartmann began implementing the game plan for Monday’s tilt last week.
The preparation included researching Chicago Christian (17-9, 3-3 SCC Blue) and playing against a mock Knights squad in practice.
The extensive work provided few clean opportunities for the Knights, who looked especially frustrated in the second set. Twelve unforced errors littered Chicago Christian’s score sheet in Game 2 as the Royals (17-8, 4-2) pulled away.
“After practice on Saturday [Hartmann] took us all into a room and gave us a sheet of paper and pen and made us write down everything that they did [during the teams’ first meeting],” Rosary libero Katie Baki said. “She knew all the lineups and everything they ran. After an hour going over that, we practiced like we were playing Chicago Christian. That helped us tonight, and they really didn’t adjust.”
Rosary pulled out a tightly contested first set thanks to Brianna Flagg’s four kills. Six Knights service errors in the second set gave the Royals some breathing room. With Rosary already up 21-16, Flagg added a pair of well-placed kills before putting an exclamation point on the match with a block at the net that ended any hope for a Chicago Christian comeback.
“Chicago Christian is a tough team to beat, but we came out ready and prepared,” Flagg said. “They came out ready to play but I thought we came out stronger. For us to win this was huge for us, especially for conference. I think we are where we should be as a team.”
Flagg was especially complimentary of Hartmann, noting an elevated intensity level at practices.
“Club season is usually 10 times harder than high school season but this season our new coaches are working us harder than ever,” Flagg said. “Our goals this year are high – we’re aiming for state. Let’s hope we can get there.”
Flagg led the Royals with seven kills while teammate Erin Bowe added six.