Lizzie Zaleski serves Marist a win

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Being on the other side of the net is the only true way to get a proper perspective on Marist senior Lizzie Zaleski’s serve.

It’s challenging, albeit a bit frustrating, according to Joliet Catholic’s Mary Murphy.

“Her serve is such a different serve,” Murphy said. “It looks like it’s going to be a float serve, but then it’s like a top spin. It’s a very difficult serve to pass. It’s… yeah, it’s a great serve.”

It was almost mesmerizing during one stretch in Marist’s 25-19, 25-20 East Suburban Catholic Conference victory Thursday in Joliet.

The 6-foot setter/right-side hitter landed three aces during an 8-0 run that turned a 12-10 deficit in Game 2 into an 18-12 lead.

One softie hit the floor about five feet beyond the net, another ripped a swath through the center of two defenders and the third glanced just off the knuckles of a diving Angels defender.

“When I start my serve, mentally I think, ‘I just have to get this one in,’” Zaleski said. “Then as the points go on, I keep getting more aggressive.”

Zaleski finished with four aces, to go along with 30 assists. Cameron Enright added 10 kills and 11 digs, Allyssa Rizzo 21 digs and Emily Graff nine kills for Marist (14-4, 5-0).

Joliet Catholic (7-7, 2-2) was led by Murphy (5 kills, 7 assists), Madeline Grimm (5 kills), Megan Melone (9 assists) and Mallory Krzysciak (10 digs).

The win gives Marist a bit of momentum going into the Asics Challenge. Both teams are competing in the nationally-recognized gathering of talent held Friday and Saturday at Mother McAuley.

“We knew this was a big match, and it’s a good win to go into another big tournament,” Enright said. “We have two big opponents (Friday) from Kentucky and Wisconsin, so it was good to come out strong (against Joliet Catholic).”

Enright’s biggest moment on Thursday came in Game 1 with Marist leading 20-18, but the Angels having scored the previous three points – two on kills by Grimm and another on a flick over the net by Murphy after a RedHawks overpass.

Enright, playing in the back row, found a soft spot in Joliet Catholic’s defense and sent a bloop to the floor. The kill broke the Angels’ momentum and their concentration. Marist’s final points of the game would come on unforced errors.

“It’s my main shot I like to focus on,” Enright said. “No one really expects me to go short. Back row attacks usually go deep. So it’s my favorite shot to hit, back row.”

The Angels showed resilience early in Game 2, leading up until Zaleski’s flurry of aces. Their defense was, at times, spectacular, but between Zaleski’s tricky serving and some late power hits by Enright, there was no coming back.

“The first game was very competitive. We were right there with them,” Murphy said. “The second game we started off great, and I was thinking, ‘This is it. We’re taking it three.’ But then we kind of got in that slump, and it killed us.

“Once we can break ourselves of those slumps and only keep ourselves to one mistake instead of seven mistakes in a row, we’re definitely going to beat these top-tier teams.”

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