Written by Dennis Mahoney.
A sure sign of growth on any athletic team is when the players display the ability to overcome their own mistakes.
Evanston’s girls volleyball team took a big step in that direction while clipping Glenbrook South 25-15, 16-25, 25-15 in their Central Suburban League South division opener at Beardsley Gym.
Coach Pam MacPherson’s team racked up their fifth straight victory and improved to 7-8 overall in the season behind Christine Covode’s 12 kills, plus 3 ace serves and 9 digs from Clara Gruger.
The Wildkits may still be a long way from challenging defending conference champion New Trier, currently ranked No. 10 in the country, a team they host on Oct 2. But a team that’s made baby steps so far when it comes to progress seems to be taking bigger steps with every match.
At least, that’s the way MacPherson sees it.
“I think our young girls (only two seniors on the roster) are starting to come together,” said the Evanston coach. “We were more consistent tonight. And in the first game, we didn’t freak out after we made an error. They just came back and swung away. That’s something we’ve been working on --- not letting the mistakes pile up for four or five points --- and tonight was the first time we’ve seen that.
“We didn’t play awesome tonight, we just played evenly, and that’s great. We played evenly because our ball control is getting better.”
Two ace serves by senior Caitlin Boer triggered an early ETHS run at 5-1 in the first set, and the host team never led by less than three points after that. Glenbrook South (5-7) did close to within 13-10 on an Evanston hitting error, but the Kits responded with five straight points to break things open behind a kill by Meg Fitzpatrick and another Boer ace.
Two late missed serves prevented a comeback by the Kits in the second set, but Covode notched five of her kills in the decisive third set and Gruger contributed two aces as ETHS closed out the match with a 9-3 surge.
A key defensive switch by the Evanston coaching staff also helped neutralize the top GBS hitter, Izzy Rapacz, in the final set. Rapacz finished with a team-high 10 kills but only recorded two of them in the third set.
“We switched Wali Deutsch (6-foot-1 junior) from the middle to the right side and she did a great job of blocking,” MacPherson praised. “She was able to shut down their No. 11 (Rapacz) and forced her to use more tips and roll shots. That really helped.”
Evanston opens play in the Wheaton Warrenville South Invitational on Wednesday with pool play matches versus Libertyville and Oak Park-River Forest at Wheaton North. Championship bracket play resumes on Saturday.