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Girls volleyball: Hand injury temporarily slows down Kristen Koncelik

Batavia's Kristen Koncelik tips ball over net during an Aug. 30 match against NeuquValley. | Mike Mantucc~ For Sun-Times Media

Batavia's Kristen Koncelik tips the ball over the net during an Aug. 30 match against Neuqua Valley. | Mike Mantucca ~ For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 27, 2012 6:20AM

Batavia senior standout Kristen Koncelik is temporarily down with a hand injury, but fortunately won’t be out long it appears — which is good news to the Bulldogs and coach Lori Trippi-Payne.

“It’s doing pretty good,” Koncelik said of the injury that kept her out of Saturday’s Warrior Blast Invitational final against eventual champ Downers Grove North and Tuesday’s Upstate Eight River matchup with Larkin.

She and senior right side Anyssa Ocon (concussion) both missed practice Monday but hope to return for Friday’s non-conference match at Benet Academy.

“It was a pretty wild match,” Trippi-Payne said of the hard-fought, three-set semifinal win her team had over host Waubonsie Valley last Saturday. “(Koncelik) and the Waubonsie Valley setter (Rachel Minarick) both suffered hand injuries in the same match and ended up going to the same hospital.”

It didn’t stop tourney coaches from naming both Koncelik and Minarick to the all-tournament team, joining teammates and outside hitters Heather Meyer (Batavia) and Lauren Lindell (Waubonsie Valley) and Metea Valley’s Libero Alyssa Ensminger on the 12-girl team.

Koncelik, a four-year starter, would be sorely missed by Trippi-Payne and her Bulldog teammates if she were to be sidelined long.

“We’ve had a few, like Kristen, who have come in and played on varsity for four years but not many,” Trippi-Payne said of the 6-foot-1 middle hitter who leads the team with 3.1 kills-per-set (143 in 46) and a 50 percent attack percentage and nearly a block per set (41 in 46 for .90).

“She’s become a much better blocker (during the past four years). She really struggled with that her freshman year, especially. She’s also developed into a better back row player and server.”

Koncelik, who started playing club volleyball at Sports Performance at age 12 and earned All-American honors this past summer at the AAU Nationals, credits her club and high school coaching. Last summer, she also made a verbal commitment to attend the University of Evansville (Ind.) and play volleyball on scholarship for the Missouri Valley Conference school which already features Illinois products in setter Jenn Murphy (Wilmington and Joliet Catholic) and defensive specialist Kim Deprez (Glenbard South).

“I was talking to a few other schools but the minute I stepped on campus, I knew it was the place for me,” said Koncelik, who plans to major in health care.

“I liked that it’s a small school with great academics and a great volleyball program (rebuilt by coach Mike Swan over the past 10 years).”

Koncelik isn’t on the pace she was last year when she obliterated the school single-season blocking record with 111 — the previous best was Megan Hoffman’s 79 — but “she’s on pace to have the second most and we’ll have to see, she could still pick it up,” said Trippi-Payne, whose team carried a 13-10 mark (1-2 UEC) into the Larkin tilt.

“When you only play everybody in conference once, it’s difficult to overcome those early losses,” said the coach. “It’s either great or it comes back to bite you. That’s how we won two years ago (in Batavia’s first year in the UEC). It can be crazy.”

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