Providence tired, but lands reward

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If Providence coach Rachel Ellingson was disappointed in her team’s effort against Lincoln-Way North in the Palos Courts Tuesday-Thursday Summer League final, she didn’t show it.

Maybe, like her players, she was just too darn tired.

“I can’t complain,” Ellingson said of a 25-14, 25-20 loss to the Phoenix. “The girls worked hard. They did three hours of camp (earlier that day). That’s not an excuse. But four games in a row is really hard on them physically.”

Providence, which reached the final by ousting T.F. South 19-25, 25-17, 15-11; Lemont 25-21, 25-14; and De La Salle Gold 18-25, 26-24, 15-12, lost eight seniors to graduation and will field a team of interchangeable parts in the fall.

“They really did a good job,” Ellingson said. “My hitters (including juniors Emily Baggetto and Katie Compagno and seniors Tess and Grace Barrett) are starting to understand they need each other, especially in times like this tournament and things like that where I can count on all of them.

“And I have some great back-row players (including libero Cory Griffith) and two great setters (Rachel Alles and Liza Ellingson). One is a little more experienced than the other. But I’m happy where we are, happy where we ended up.”

Rachel Ellingson also sent kudos to the Palos Courts staff for ensuring a smoothly run league and even smoother — if not fatiguing — season-ending tournament.

“What they do here is great,” she said. “It’s great not only to see what you have as a program, but what other programs have, especially if you’re going to be playing them throughout the season. Kathy (Steel), Gerard (White) and Adam (Beck), it’s a lot of work for them, too. We appreciate them putting this on.

“It’s always great competition, always a lot of fun. The girls enjoy it. They get to play a little more than your 25 days of practice that you get. They like to come and show their stuff.”

Next step for Sandburg

The season-ending tournament wasn’t fun for everybody. But it wasn’t full of doom and gloom, either.

Sandburg coach David Vales watched his team come up short in the semifinals against Lincoln-Way North despite the return of setter Sami Knight, who sat out the Eagles’ three-set victory over the Phoenix in pool play.

One of the areas hit hardest by graduation last spring was Sandburg’s back row, which saw Kelly McGovern and Alyssa Kijewski depart.

“One of the things we are missing is defensive specialists,” Vales said. “We have some young bodies back there. That was the difference. You could see when the ball went up in the air there was a little bit of that ‘deer in the headlights’ look. You could see it against Shepard and Lincoln-Way North.

“Lincoln-Way North was smoother. They knew where people were going to be and we didn’t have that. So that’s just something we’ll have to get together once the season starts. I’m not too worried.”

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