LA GRANGE — This year’s seniors were in eighth grade during Lyons’ last state title season, but the two squads bear a strong resemblance.
It starts with senior setter Hannah Juley, who came to Lyons as a freshman in 2011. She followed in the footsteps of her older sister, Erin Juley, a four-year varsity player who was on that state championship team in 2010.
Erin Juley went on to play Division I volleyball at Long Beach State and is currently a setter at Wisconsin.
“Erin’s senior year was really exciting and it left me excited but intimidated,” Hannah Juley said. “I knew the magnitude of what I was going into because they had won the state championship and the year before they were second.
“I was coming into a really strong program but I knew it would take a while because we were so young.”
Lyons continued its remarkable season Tuesday night with a dominating 25-13, 25-15 West Suburban Silver victory over Oak Park-River Forest.
The Lions (27-2, 6-0) finished conference with a perfect record and are ready to make a run at a state title.
Back in 2011, Hannah Juley was called up to varsity with freshmen classmates Cori Hansen, Toni Saracco and Jessi Skonning. The team advanced to supersectionals that season, then made it to the sectional finals during Hannah Juley’s sophomore year.
Following that year she made a verbal commitment to play volleyball at Wisconsin. She then suffered a stress fracture in her left foot before her junior season began. After eight weeks of rehab she returned to the team but played in just two games before suffering a Lisfranc injury to the same foot. She missed nearly an entire year of volleyball.
“There was a lot of anticipation coming into this year,” Juley said. “I didn’t start playing volleyball until July, so basically it was the first time I played volleyball in a year. There was a lot of anxiety about how I was going to do.”
Those worries quickly melted as Juley and her teammates have been on a season-long roll.
“You never really know what’s going to happen, how you’re going to play together or how good the other teams are,” Juley said. “We tried to take it one game at a time and we just kept winning. When we kept pulling out those wins, our confidence grew.”
That makes dreams of a state title much more realistic.
“Of course we want the state championship; every team wants the state championship, but I think this team can really do it,” Juley said. “I don’t see any reason why we can’t. We really want this so badly.”
Lyons coach Joann Pyritz has had the opportunity to coach both Juley sisters at Lyons.
“I know Hannah saw her sister make it to state two years in a row and now here she is making her mark and she’s going off to play at Wisconsin,” Pyritz said. “I love to see siblings come here and play.”
Hannah Juley had 27 assists against OPRF, while teammates Lindsey Oettel and Ariah Palter had seven kills each. Toni Saracco had 17 digs, including two during a run when she served eight points in Game 2 to help close the match.
Symone Speech led the Huskies (15-15, 1-5) with 10 kills, while Meg Valenti and Morgan Watson had three kills apiece. “They have a lot of great individual players and they team up really well,” Valenti said. “They had a really good defense that we weren’t expecting. They were scrappy players.”