GLEN ELLYN – Hannah Yaconis is not the biggest middle hitter around.
She isn’t the most experienced, either.
But the Batavia senior more than makes up for it with moxie and speed.
“Hannah is one of our best players,” Batavia senior setter Jenna Garrett said. “She’s always ready to run even when we’re out of system.
“She’s always up and she’s one of the quickest middles I’ve ever worked with.
“She’s a big part of our team. I don’t think we’d be the team we are without her.”
The 6-foot Yaconis demonstrated her worth Oct. 11. She had four kills and four blocks to help the Bulldogs to an impressive 25-18, 25-17 road win over Glenbard South.
Yaconis was matched up against Glenbard South’s 6-foot-3 star, Maggie Bair, who had six kills and three blocks but was unable to dominate the match.
“It was a big shock,” Yaconis said. “I did not think I was going to do that well.
“It was really intimidating coming in against a 6-3 middle. She’s way taller and bigger than me and I thought she played really well, too.”
Yaconis has been playing well all season for the Bulldogs (16-12), who are winning despite having only three seniors and four returning players. Her success is particularly noteworthy considering this is her first year on varsity.
“I started playing when I was in seventh grade and I was always kind of lanky and tall and kind of awkward,” said Yaconis, who is talking to several Division III colleges. “It didn’t really click until last year and I love playing middle.”
Yaconis and Garrett have established a rapport that benefits both players. The Lindenwood-bound Garrett is a sure-handed and accurate setter who appreciates having an agile and versatile middle like Yaconis.
“I have connected so great with my setter, Jenna,” Yaconis said. “She sets me higher in the middle, which helps me push (balls) to the middle a lot and a lot of teams don’t expect it.
“So that’s why we did very well with that (tonight). I thought it was a huge win for our team.”
Indeed, veteran Batavia coach Lori Trippi-Payne could not remember the last time the Bulldogs had swept Glenbard South, which fell to 16-11. She lauded her team’s unselfish play.
Junior Maddy Boyer led all players with eight kills, while freshman Cordelia Smith had five kills and junior Melissa Kozak four. Garrett dished 22 assists.
“Hannah beats the block a ton, so that really helps, and she’s got really good placement and hand contact,” Garrett said. “When she’s up there she’s got a quick arm swing and she can put the ball wherever she wants.
“She’s done so much to help this team grow, it’s crazy.”
Now the Bulldogs are harboring hopes of making some noise in the playoffs. Batavia opens postseason play at the Class 4A Kaneland Regional on Oct. 24 against DeKalb.
“We’re young but we’ve got a lot of raw talent,” Garrett said. “Now that we’re getting late in the season it’s about putting everything together and being able to bounce back when we’re down and I think we did a good job of that tonight.”