Baranek: No kidding, Mother McAuley volleyball ready for revival
Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org | (708) 633-5947 August 30, 2012 6:38PM
Members of the Michio Chicago Volleyball Academy squad: Kelsey Clark (from left), Amber Casey, Maggie Scanlon, Kennedy Arundel, Carla Cahill, coach Jordan Vidovic, Ryann DeJarld, Ali Lund, Keisten Somerville and Morgan Mikenas. They won the title in the U
A new view
“It’s much harder to be a parent in the stands than to coach. When you’re coaching you’re in the trenches with them. You’re talking to them, you’re helping, you’re orchestrating. To sit in the stands is so much more nerve-racking. I really feel for parents. I got a good taste of what that’s like, and it’s absolutely nerve-racking.”
Jen DeJarld, whose daughter, Ryann, played on the Michio 15s team coached by Jordan Vidovic that captured the USAV Junior National title.
Updated: October 1, 2012 5:37PM
What a start for Mother McAuley volleyball in 2012. Like many of the classic Mighty Macs teams from the past, this group already has roared back from big single-game deficits to defeat Joliet Catholic and Lockport, and bounced back from a Set 2 loss to Downers Grove South to win a 25-15, 23-25, 29-27 thriller.
And to think I ranked them No. 4 in the preseason.
Great move, eh? Let me explain.
First, graduating 11 seniors is a pretty big loss, even for a program with sustained success such as McAuley’s. Five of their replacements were going to be sophomores. Plus, McAuley wasn’t entered in any summer leagues, coach Jen DeJarld opting instead to just have workouts by themselves.
Now granted, the five sophomores — Kennedy Arundel, Carla Cahill, Maggie Scanlon, Ryann DeJarld and Kelsey Clarke — competed for the Michio Chicago Volleyball Academy squad that in early July won the title in the USAV Junior National Championships Open Division. But they were still 15-year-olds beating 15-year-olds. Now they’d be facing 18-year-olds.
The clincher was DeJarld herself, who in a survey sent out before the season, wrote “I think we’ll be flying under the radar a little this year.”
Downplaying just a little, coach?
“Yeah, I definitely was,” an amused DeJarld said. “It’s not like I was going to come into the season touting too much.
“First of all, it’s good to be the underdogs. I didn’t need a team full of sophomores being ranked No. 1 or 2 on our backs. You know, they need to earn it.”
They’re off to a pretty fine start.
Ryann DeJarld, the coach’s daughter, had a team-high eight kills against Joliet Catholic and Arundel was right behind her with seven. Clarke, a transfer from Marian Catholic, was key in the Lockport match with five kills and two blocks, while Scanlon started a Set 1 breakaway with a laser shot down the left line for a service ace. Cahill was the digs leader for McAuley in Wednesday’s win over Downers Grove South.
They looked calm, they looked cool, they looked calculating. They looked like anything but 15-year-old olds facing 17- and 18-year-olds.
“The thing about this group is we’ve always had them play up a level,” DeJarld said. “The national tournament was all 15s, but throughout the year in club they always play the 16- and 17-year-olds in club. They’re used to playing bigger, stronger, taller kids.”
Their contributions, plus those of veteran players Courtney Joyce, Jenny Phelan, Michelle Konecki and Gabrielle Ennis, gives DeJarld more depth to work with than she’s had in several seasons.
“Our whole team is full of experience,” Joyce said after the Lockport victory. “Sophomores, juniors, seniors, we’re all playing as equals.”
And, for the time being, they’re all playing. DeJarld has been mixing starting lineups and putting different combinations on the court during matches at a dizzying pace.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been this deep,” DeJarld said. “I’m 15 players deep, and from 1 to 15 they’ll be vying for spots on the floor. I’m just changing the lineup every time we play because I’m trying to see things.
“I’m giving everybody shots and chances, and they’re all doing a nice job. We need to start honing in on a lineup pretty soon. I just hope I make the right choices. These next three years, I think, will be my strongest in a long time.”
It’s been a tough handful of years for McAuley volleyball ... well, by McAuley volleyball standards, anyway. It’s been four years (2008) since McAuley has been to state. It’s been eight since its last state title — double that of the previous drought in McAuley history.
It used to be that Marist couldn’t beat McAuley when it counted. In 2010 and ’11, Marist ended McAuley’s season.
Some might say Marist has passed McAuley as the top power on the South Side.
“I never got that feeling,” DeJarld said. “I’ve never felt that they passed us up ever. The last couple of years (in the sectional finals) we’ve won Game 1 and we haven’t been able to keep our focus and sustain Game 2 and 3. But we were right there, as strong as them. They had the ability to outlast us and stay focused a lot longer. But did I ever think they have taken over as a powerhouse? No way.”
The next chapter, Sept. 11, should be interesting. Meantime, the Mighty Macs won’t be ranked No. 4 come Tuesday.