Girls Volleyball: Oak Lawn holds off, then sacks Shepard
BY TONY BARANEK firstname.lastname@example.org October 15, 2013 10:48PM
Updated: November 17, 2013 10:04AM
A battle for first place couldn’t have been any more classic than Tuesday’s South Suburban Red showdown between Oak Lawn and visiting Shepard.
Not only did it go three sets, but 14 of the final 15 points were achieved, not given away.
The winner, Oak Lawn, battled back from four match points before Becky Bradshaw hammered a kill to nail down a 25-20, 14-25, 29-27 decision.
Bradshaw finished with 11 kills and nine digs, Simona Tomczak eight kills and nine digs, Jamie Fionda seven kills, Tara Hill seven digs and Bree Markusic four kills as the Spartans (16-5, 10-1) took a firm grip on the division lead.
Shepard (15-9, 8-3) was led by Briana Haugh (16 kills), Abby Graham (9 kills, 14 digs), Kendall Yerkes (8 kills, 11 digs), Caroline Graham (34 assists) and Brianna Volpentesta (20 digs, 11 service points).
“You just have to keep pushing,” Markusic said of the Spartans’ late tenacity. “Once you keep pushing, you get the intensity up. You just have to battle through it, point after point.”
It was punch, counter-punch at its best after Shepard battled back from a 21-17 third set deficit, Amanda Carberry going back-to-back with a kill and a block to tie it at 22-22.
Shepard’s final five points came on two kills by Haugh and one each by Abby Graham, Jessica Ferguson and Yerkes.
Of Oak Lawn’s final seven points, six came on two kills each by Bradshaw and Tomczak, and a tip-kill and block-kill by Markusic.
Markusic’s contributions were back-to-back for points 27 and 28.
Bradshaw then closed out not only the match, but the memory of last year’s loss to Shepard that cost the Spartans a share of the league crown.
“When they came to our house we said, ‘We’ve got to win this time, definitely,’ ” Bradshaw said, smiling. “We’ve been working so hard at practice, working on what need to do to win. After falling apart in that second game, we brought it together for that third game.”
Oak Lawn seized the first set thanks to a late 5-0 run featuring a pair of kills by Tomczak that extended what had been a one-point lead.
Later, however, Shepard seemed to be in total control. The Astros took advantage of some rotation changes by Oak Lawn in Set 2 and raced to a 13-2 lead, primarily on a long turn at the service line by Volpentesta. The Spartans never got closer than nine.
“That’s the best I’ve seen them play,” Shepard coach Dan Grunauer said of his Astros. “The effort and energy they gave was inspiring. I can’t wait to go into finishing out conference and go into the state playoffs this way.”