Beginning with Thursday’s visit to Genoa-Kingston, Big Northern East-leading Burlington Central was set to play all but one of its remaining matches on the road.
“Whether it be tournaments or on the road in conference, we’re going to have to beat teams for the second time on the road, which is going to be a big challenge,” Rockets coach Marv Leavitt said. “But we’re up to it. We’ll see what we’re made of.”
Unbeaten in conference play, BC has defeated defending 3A state runners-up Richmond-Burton twice this season, including over the weekend on its run to the Hampshire tournament title.
Balance has been the key across the board, an asset that received a boost with the recent return of junior outside hitter Lauren Wiltsie, who needed just 3 1/2 weeks to recover from surgery on a torn meniscus.
“I’m just really pleased with the direction our team is going,” Leavitt said. “We’re getting so many great contributions – passing, setting, hitting – and it’s exciting to see.”
Saints stay on upswing
Tournament host St. Charles East enters this weekend’s Mizuno Cup on a five-match winning streak.
The Saints (17-4) have not lost since a Sept. 17 visit to St. Charles North. The team doesn’t question the most resounding victory in that span – a 16-25, 25-20, 25-18 home win against defending 4A state champion Benet on Sept. 25.
“Beating Benet was huge for us,” East coach Jennie Kull said. “We’ve been playing pretty consistent, and the four losses that we do have, three of them were in three games.”
Inexperience was a concern entering the season, but Kull knows nerves went by the wayside long before the winning streak started.
“Our kids are young but they’re really starting to make some strides here,” she said.
Mother, may I beat the Macs?
Defending 3A state champion St. Francis entered Thursday’s match at Downers Grove South at 28-3, a .903 winning percentage.
Take away the existence of Mother McAuley, and that figure would be a perfect 1.000.
St. Francis fell to 0-3 against its fellow perennial power – a returning 4A state semifinalist – after the host Mighty Macs earned a 25-9, 28-30, 30-28 win in an Asics Challenge tournament semifinal Saturday.
St. Francis recovered in its next match, defeating Park Hills (Ky.) Notre Dame Academy, 25-11, 25-21 for third place.
Kevin Druley, email@example.com
WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK
Charitable event season remains in full swing. On Tuesday, Burlington Central coach Marv Leavitt reported a solid showing at Volley For the Cure Night against Rockford Christian, saying, “[We] raised alot of money and our team played really well.” On Thursday, Wheaton Academy was set to host its first Volleyball For Haiti night.
WHAT WE’LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
More about the Upstate Eight Conference River Division race. Each of the four Tri-Cities teams will very much have a say in the proceedings, especially after St. Charles North’s close sweep of Larkin Thursday night. St. Charles East hosts Batavia in a key match Tuesday, one week before entertaining Geneva in the final week of the regular season.
IN THE GROOVE
St. Francis, So., OH
What she did: Smacked eight kills to key Wednesday’s Suburban Christian Conference sweep of visiting Rosary, helping the Spartans improve to 8-0 in league play.
Wheaton Academy, Sr., S
What she did: McClain dished 95 assists as Wheaton Academy went 4-1 to place third at IMSA’s Schwartzwalder Invitational over the weekend.
COACH SLY SEZ
A few months ago, Burlington Central touted a young and deep core in a lengthy run through the 3A girls basketball postseason.
The cast and seasons have changed since, but the Rockets’ outlook hasn’t.
BC volleyballers are primed to make some noise in the state tournament thanks to a blend of youth, experience and Marv Leavitt’s veteran coaching.