Girls Volleyball: Oswego East advances to title match
By Paul Johnson For Sun-Times Media October 23, 2012 9:42PM
Updated: October 23, 2012 10:32PM
With all four teams in the Class 4A Plainfield North Regional semifinals from the Southwest Prairie Conference, there is a level of familiarity in the field that transcends records.
That was on display all evening Tuesday as top-seeded Plainfield North recovered from losing the first set to fifth-seeded Oswego to beat the Panthers for the fourth time this season, 21-25, 25-8, 25-12. In the second semifinal, second-seeded Oswego East toppled third seed Plainfield East for the third time in four tries to advance to Thursday’s final, 25-17, 25-22.
“Beating a good team three out of four times is tough, and we did it,” Oswego East coach Adam Thurlwell said. “That’s the exact same thing Plainfield North has to do to us, beat us three times. It’s good for these girls to get into the championship game. We went to three against North a week ago Thursday. They’re thirsty. They want it. Plainfield North is a very talented team. It’s going to be a battle.”
For Oswego East (15-14), the first game was back-and-forth early, tied at 10-10, before the Wolves pulled away for the win. Four kills and an ace from sophomore Kelly Bertrand helped the Wolves get some separation for the win.
Plainfield East (14-15-2) took a 19-17 lead in the second game on a Briana McGee ace, but three kills from Oswego East senior Brittany Warnecke helped the Wolves regain the lead, 24-22, and a Bertrand kill put the match away.
Oswego (14-20) was over 20 minutes late to the opening match of the evening after the Panthers’ team bus got caught behind a railroad crossing that was stuck. But the delay didn’t derail the Panthers’ hopes for an upset.
They hopped out to a 9-3 lead against the SPC champions from Plainfield North (26-8). They maintained a steady lead throughout, never leading by less than three, and putting the pressure on with a 25-21 win.
“We had a pre-practice, so we were ready to go,” Oswego coach Erica Lorenz said. “We came out ready. We were blocking, we were setting well, we were attacking.”
In the second two games, however, the Tigers woke up and took it to Oswego. They jumped out to an 18-6 lead behind six service points from senior Alyssa Bullock and just kept building it to the end.
“She’s a senior and she had a shoulder injury, so she can’t be in the front row for us,” Plainfield North coach Tracey Marshall said. “She took charge in the back row and served those points. It was during that time that I could feel the momentum switch.”
It carried into the third game, as the Tigers quickly jumped out 6-0 behind a pair of Kate Federico aces. They continued to methodically extend their lead to avoid the upset.
“An absolute lack of focus,” Marshall called the first set. “Luckily we were able to regroup, but if you were anywhere near that huddle, I was chewing them out because there was a lack of preparation. They almost let it slip by them.”
Oswego graduates only one player, Jenny Greenwood, from a team loaded with underclassmen.
“Jenny’s leadership cannot be replaced,” Lorenz said.
“She is just phenomenal. She’s coachable, she’s high energy, she’s a gamer. She leads the team not only on the court with her actions, but also with her words, she always has.”