By: Luke Drase
The old adage “volleyball is a game of runs,” was proven true Monday night when Highland Park defeated Glenbrook North 25-19, 22-25, 25-16 in the opening match of the CSL North conference season.
Both teams started out the match rather sloppy, committing multiple errors on serve receive and on the attack, which led to a tightly contested first set.
Then, with the game tied at 19, Highland Park finally got the breakthrough that they were looking for.
Highland Park went on a 6-0 run to close out the set. Ella Weil led the way from the service line as she aced GBN three times during the Giants run.
The second set started eerily similar to the first, both teams were error prone in the early going, but once the passing improved, the attackers caught fire.
GBN and Highland Park both started putting the ball away with authority, especially Highland Park outside hitter Olivia Carter who within a span of five points, rattled off two kills, a stuff block and an ace.
Carter said: “It was mostly the energy from my team that brought us all together and I just had so much excitement from them that I just swung as hard as I could and the ball found the floor.”
This increased attacking presence led to more side out volleyball and another tied game late in the set. But the Spartans ultimately prevailed as they took seven of the final nine points to force the final set.
With two tight games already, it only seemed natural that both teams would be clawing for every point, however, that was not to be.
Highland Park broke the game wide open as they jumped out to a 14-1 lead thanks to impeccable serving, and dominant attacking from their two outside hitters Ireland Hieb and Carter.
With such a big advantage, the Giants put it in cruise control for the rest of the game to win the final frame by a score of 25-16.
“The last time we faced them we lost 24-26 in the third set, so we’re two pretty evenly matched teams,” said Highland Park coach Beth Peterson.
“But the difference this time is that we had eight service errors per set last time we played them so just keeping our serves in really helped.”
With the big win to get them off to a 1-0 start in conference, the ultimate goal of a conference title isn’t that farfetched for the young Highland Park team, especially in a wide open CSL North.
A tough early season schedule for the Giants where they played the likes of Niles West, OPRF and Warren, bodes well for a successful second half run.
Peterson said: “I think it makes a difference that we played tough competition so that the girls challenge themselves and know that they can play with the better teams.”
Both Highland Park and GBN will play their next match on Thursday. Highland Park will face Maine East, who also won their conference opener, and GBN will seek their first conference win against Deerfield.