Carmel volleyball wins share of first ESCC title

SHARE Carmel volleyball wins share of first ESCC title

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS — Carmel’s girls volleyball team started the season with big goals. One was to win a East Suburban Catholic Conference championship.

Milestone accomplished.

The Corsairs easily dispatched conference foe St. Viator on Thursday night, 25-14, 25-14. With the win, Carmel (29-5, 6-2) earned a share of the ESCC North Division crown with Marian Central and the distinction of being the first team in school history to win a girls volleyball conference title.

“It feels amazing. It feels great that we made history,” senior hitter Morgan Meade said.

St. Viator did not put up much resistance on its home floor. The only drama occurred in pregame warm-ups, when Carmel’s star outside hitter Grace Schofield sprained her right ankle. She did not play.

But Schofield’s absence did not effect Carmel. In the first game, the Corsairs stormed out to a 14-4 lead behind the hitting of Meade (11 kills), setting and serving of senior Sierra Kepski (eight digs, two aces) and stellar all-around play from sophomore hitter Grace Butler (13 assists).

“We talked [before the match] and we are still a team without [Schofield]. We said we had to work to win this for her and ourselves,” Meade said.

Junior Elizabeth Tworek, a defensive specialist, stepped into Schofield’s position and finished with eight kills on 10 attempts.

“For not hitting all year, to finish with eight kills, wow,” Carmel coach Dave Pazely said.

Her ankle wrapped in ice for the first game, Schofield’s condition improved by the end of the match. After Carmel’s victory, she was walking and celebrating with teammates. Pazely said Schofield will be evaluated Friday and her status for the Corsairs end-of-season showdown with Libertyville is uncertain.

Schofield said she hopes to play but expects to be ready for regionals, beginning Tuesday. Her absence didn’t diminish how she felt about the Corsairs historical feat.

“I’ve wanted [conference] since freshman year. To be able get that with this group of seniors, its unreal. It’s so cool,” Schofield said.

If postseason brackets play out, Friday’s match at Libertyville will not be the only time the Corsairs and Wildcats play this season. Both are in the Glenbrook North sectional, the Wildcats the No. 1 seed, Carmel No. 3. A rematch in the sectional championship could await the programs on Nov. 6.

But that story is for another day. What’s for sure is that Carmel can call itself conference champion.

“We take matches one game at a time. It’s easy to get caught up in awards,” Pazely said. “This means more because it was for a conference championship. I’m sure it will hit down the road but for now we are focused in Libertyville.”

Meade added: “We are the first Carmel team to win conference. This is proof of how bad we want it, how hard we’ve worked.”

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