WHEATON – There were a large number of seniors on the St. Francis court Wednesday night as the school honored senior athletes from the varsity golf, soccer and volleyball teams, and even the school pep band.
The pregame ceremony was lengthy, in sharp contrast to the St. Francis girls volleyball team’s swift, 25-12, 25-9 Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division win against the Royals.
“I thought we played pretty well despite the amount of service errors we made in the first game,” Spartans coach Peg Kopec said. “We do have to fix those service errors and work on our blocking, which I was not happy with tonight.”
The Spartans, behind the serving of junior defensive specialist Lisa Mordell, started out the opening game taking a 9-6 lead despite committing three services errors that allowed the Royals to stay close to the Spartans.
“It’s always an emotional night when it’s senior night,” Kopec said. “So, I think that contributed to the slow start. But I think once we settled down midway through the opening game, we were fine.”
A 9-6 lead for the Spartans (28-3, 8-0 SCC Blue) turned into a 16-8 lead for the home side behind the serving of senior libero Sam Dubiel (18 digs).
The Spartans would then go on a 9-4 run paced by the serving of outside hitter Molly Haggerty (eight kills) to close out the opening game, 25-12.
Game 2 found the two teams tied at 4-4 before Mordell took over the serving duties for the Spartans. Once she got her serve rolling, the Spartans went on an 8-1 run for the 12-5 lead, and the end was starting to be in sight for the Royals (10-17, 1-6).
“It was important for us to work together as a team because this was our last home match of the season and it was my last match as a senior here,” Spartans senior setter Becca Shearer (five kills, three blocks) said. “Nerves were everywhere in that first game for us. But we eventually calmed down. I think right now, we are in a good spot as a team. We just want to get the postseason started, if anything.”
The Spartans put the Royals away in the second game by going on a 10-1 run paced by the serving of sophomore setter Daniele Messa (14 assists).
At the very end, it almost appeared as if the seniors wanted to extend their playing time on their home court for the last time as it took three tries to close out the match.
St. Francis beat Rosary in two games earlier this season in Aurora.
“It would have been nice to win tonight,” Royals coach Rachel Hartmann said. “But I was really happy with how well our two freshmen, Megan Hart and Martha Konovodoff (12 digs), played tonight. They have a lot of potential. There are things to look forward to in this program.”