Batavia touted Tuesday's Upstate Eight Conference River Division opener as its "Pack the Place" night.
Visiting St. Charles North got the memo, too, as well as some promotional T-shirts. It was all part of Bulldogs coach Lori Trippi-Payne's plan.
"I think that speaks a lot about their program and just the person that she is," said North coach Lindsey Hawkins, who sported a "Pack the Place" T-shirt during the match. "She really wants to build an Upstate Eight tradition of spirit, and we love that because we're all about that at North. We were happy to join in and get as many fans out here as possible."
Ultimately, the royal blue and black-clad partisans in the overflow crowd found more to cheer about during North's 25-23, 25-21 victory – the North Stars' 10th in as many matches to open the season.
"We knew that it wasn't going to be easy. It was going to be a battle, but we all had to play for each other and we couldn't give up," North middle blocker Emily Carroll said. "We just had to keep fighting. Go all out for every play and never take a play off."
Burlington Central's three-game win against Rock Falls last week included double-digit kills from hitters Jenna Schudel and Makenna Jensen.
That junior defensive specialist Allie DeTamble (nine kills) wasn't far behind them was especially encouraging to Rockets coach Marv Leavitt, who is looking for extra offense as the team awaits Lauren Wiltsie's recovery from a knee injury.
"That was strong. Allie played tough," Leavitt said. "She's one of our starting DSes, so the passing has been there, but getting that hitting contribution really helps us out."
Old 'Dogs, new fans
Trippi-Payne keeps a firm pulse on the status of former players in college. In October, she and her current batch plan to see two of them face off in Chicago.
Recently minted Missouri Valley Conference member Loyola hosts Evansville at 7 p.m. on Oct. 26, marking a reunion between ex-Bulldogs Stephanie Kinane (Loyola libero) and Kristen Koncelik (Evansville middle hitter).
"That's going to be crazy," Trippi-Payne said. "The girls are looking forward to it."
Depending on Batavia's earlier itinerary – the team is idle from competition on the weekend before regionals – the day could start in Arlington Heights, site of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament. Batavia grad Briahna Havis, a defensive specialist for NAIA Roosevelt, is now a CCAC athlete.
In the groove
Molly Haggerty, St. Francis, So., OH
What she did: Haggerty helped the Spartans defend their Conant Early Bird Invitational title over the weekend before shining again Wednesday night, smacking 13 kills during a road sweep of IC Catholic Prep in St. Francis' Suburban Christian Conference opener.
Carly Jimenez, St. Charles East, Sr., S
What she did: Jimenez distributed in style throughout this weekend's Conant invite, including a combined 42 assists in a semifinal win against Pius (Wis.) and the championship match loss to St. Francis.
WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK
Geneva's upperclassmen keep rolling. Although the Vikings welcomed an influx of younger talent to the rotation this season, it was Hannah Lanasa (28 kills) Kelsey Wicinski (51 digs) and Courtney Caruso (55 assists) who keyed Geneva's runner-up run in its own invitational Saturday. Lanasa, Wicinski and Caruso – a junior, junior and senior, respectively – led the team in the same statistical categories during Tuesday's sweep at Elgin.
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
Whether St. Charles North can register its first victory against St. Charles East in the Lindsey Hawkins era. Hawkins, the former Lindsey Linkimer, is winless against her former school and coach, Jennie Kull, since taking the job in 2009. She'll get the chance to turn the tables when the North Stars host the Saints Tuesday night in the programs' annual "Volley For the Cure" breast cancer event.
COACH SLY SAYS
This probably isn't apropos of anything, but Sly still thought he'd point something out.
Since the UEC River debuted in 2010, the winner of the St. Charles East-St. Charles North football game has mirrored the victor when the schools meet in girls volleyball.
This year's football game is tonight, of course, with volleyball squaring off Tuesday night. Will East Side Pride prevail twice for the fourth year running? Stay tuned.