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St. Francis volleyball in the zone in sweep of Rosary

AURORA – St. Francis flipped the script on a longstanding notion during Monday’s Suburban Christian Conference girls volleyball match at Rosary.

In sweeping the Royals, 25-14, 25-12, the Spartans showed that good things can come in threes, not just disasters.

This time around, the trifecta pertained to the team’s serving zones. Ascending in aggressiveness from one – just get it in – to three – go for the ace – the signals usually favored the higher number against a young Rosary team. St. Francis (13-1, 2-0 SCC) served nine aces, including a team-high four from junior defensive specialist Lisa Mordell.

“Practicing that so much really helps us in game situations,” Mordell said. “We usually go for at least a two, maybe a three.”

So far, three has been a significant figure for the Royals, as well. Rosary is 3-7, 0-2 in conference, and gives substantial playing time to three freshmen.

Libero Martha Konovodoff proved the busiest in a group that also includes outside hitter Erin Burke and right-side Julia Gauthier, collecting six digs against defending 3A state champion St. Francis’ deep stable of hitters.

Molly Haggerty, who earned MVP honors in the Spartans’ run to the Effingham Crossroads Classic title over the weekend, led the team with six kills. Older sister Maddie had three kills but was held out of the second game to rest.

St. Francis coach Peg Kopec also rested starting middle hitter Mary Boken after Boken tweaked her knee in the tournament final.

“Maddie is fine, but, you know, give somebody else a chance to play,” Kopec said. “We allowed 12 and 14. Give somebody else a chance to play.”

Kamryn Malloy (five blocks) and Becca Shearer (three) also shined up front for St. Francis, while libero Sam Dubiel contributed 14 digs.

Junior defensive specialist Genevieve Talbot, recently sidelined with a minor injury, paced Rosary with eight digs, all in Game 2. Talbot zoomed from corner to corner on repeated sequences during a memorable point that Rosary won to draw within 14-8.

“To see her hustle, it’s one of the things we’ve been begging the girls to do in practice, you know,” Royals coach Rachel Hartmann said. “I feel like matches that we’ve lost that are close, it’s always been the other team who’s done that, who’s hit the ground and balls are hitting off their shoulders, knees, feet and they’re finding some way to make a play. And finally, tonight, that was us for some points.”

Rosary, which led, 1-0, in both games, didn’t have a chance to do much on Mordell’s 8-0 serving run early in Game 2. Burke smacked a kill to end the surge. Nina Valaitis led the Rosary attack with five kills.

“We had a really tough tournament this weekend, so it was a nice break just to get some good flow going into the rest of the week,” Mordell said.

St. Francis hosts SCC foe Marian Central on Wednesday, when the Spartans hope good things come in twos. Two games, that is.


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