Counting to 10 comes far easier than tallying the number of times St. Francis girls volleyball coach Peg Kopec has treated her unprecedented success with self-deprecation.
The winningest coach in IHSA history – victory No. 1,159, a 25-19, 25-7 sweep of La Salle-Peru, netted the Spartans a repeat Class 3A title earlier this month – now boasts 10 state championships overall.
Right, coach? Ten?
“Things kind of run together, you know,” Kopec grinned. “Especially, when you’re older.”
And with that, here’s another accolade to accumulate: Kane County Chronicle Girls Volleyball Coach of the Year.
Kopec guided St. Francis to a 39-3 record in 2013 while navigating the stretch run without Nebraska-bound senior outside hitter Maddie Haggerty (torn labrum), the highest-profile player among four to suffer season-ending injuries.
Each of the Spartans’ losses came to eventual Class 4A state champion Mother McAuley, which itself lost just twice, both times to Kentucky teams in tournament play.
St. Francis didn’t venture quite as far south as The Bluegrass State during the postseason, but a draw that took the team to Coal City (sectional) and Joliet Catholic (supersectional) surely looked like a leisure trip. The Spartans swept both sectional matches and the supersectional by an average margin of victory of 10 points.
Montini took the first game from St. Francis in the Timothy Christian Regional final, but the Spartans cruised after that. Senior libero Sam Dubiel, a Florida recruit, and sophomore outside hitter Molly Haggerty – the third of her sisters to commit to Nebraska – led the charge.
“Just moved some people around, but same old suspects,” Kopec said. “Except for Laney.”
Promoting freshman Laney Malloy shortly after Molly Haggerty’s early-October injury represented a relative change of pace for Kopec.
Ultimately, Malloy’s 6-foot-1 stature – two inches taller than twin sister Kamryn, who spent the entire season with the varsity – added up.
“Laney being a freshman, I wouldn’t normally turn to that person, but she had a potential blocking component that we’re looking for,” Kopec said.
The Malloys were one of two sets of siblings on the 2013 team. Several others had older sisters to win titles alongside Kopec.
Since taking the reins of the program in 1974 – at 4-6, her only sub-.500 season – Kopec has welcomed nine former players as assistant coaches.
She would rather keep track of those familial figures than wins and titles. Regardless, the totals only figure to grow across the board.