The faces and the names might not be familiar, but some things remain the same.
“Expectations never change at Benet,” 5-11 senior outside hitter Whitney Battoe said. “We always have the same goals. Right now we have a lot of things in our book that we need to work on, but I think we’re a better team for that because it’s in our control. We can get better.”
Benet might have a hard time convincing York that there is room for improvement.
Battoe had eight kills, Natalie Canulli added seven kills, 6-3 junior middle Rachael Fara added six kills and three blocks and Stephanie Sinnappan had 27 assists as No. 3 Benet (6-0) defeated York for the third time in five days, 25-19, 25-13, Wednesday in Lisle.
York (3-4) was within 20-18 in Game One when Fara bookended a tip and a block around a Dukes error to give the Redwings a 23-18 lead. That was part of a 20-9 run by the hosts that continued into the second game and gave Benet a 15-8 lead in the nightcap.
“The whole point is to have a lot of confidence, just take one point at the time and really focus on that one point,” said Sinnappan, who had just 25 assists during her entire junior year. “If we keep doing that, the pressure slowly goes away.”
Although hitters like Battoe, Canulli and Ashley Hitchcock rarely saw the floor last year, they did work with Sinnappan on the sophomore team two years ago. That familiarity is contributing to Benet’s early success in 2013.
“That familiarity helps a lot,” Sinnappan said. “It helps me connect with the hitters. Me and Whitney have been connecting a lot, which is great.”
Battoe, who had 10 kills all of last year, had six in Game Two as Benet took an early 12-6 lead and extended it to 20-10 on an ace by sophomore Tiffany Clark.
“That’s just the way it worked out,” Battoe said. “We were trying to get our momentum going faster in the second game. The first game we started out really slow. We talked in the huddle between games and I said that each of us hitters needed to pound the ball.”
Libero Caroline Wolf led Benet’s defense with 11 digs to go with an ace and two assists, and Clark added 10 digs, a kill and two aces. Battoe might have joined them in the back row if not for a growth spurt during her sophomore year.
“Growing a couple of inches helps,” said Battoe, who grew to 5-11 after entering high school as a 5-4 defensive specialist. “It’s nice to grow a couple inches when you’re a hitter.”
Outside hitter Amy Nosek led York (3-4) with five kills, Rachel Iverson had seven assists and sophomore Alexandra Preuss and junior Elizabeth Pronove each had two kills, but it was York’s lack of blocking that coach Patty Iverson said was the most frustrating part of the Dukes’ performance.
“We blew what we worked on hardest the last two days,” she said. “Blocking assignments. It started the very first game. We were supposed to block from the pin in.
We didn’t do that. From there, everything else started falling apart.
“They [Benet] served well, we got aced and we didn’t execute, but the blocking is what changed the whole game,” Iverson added. “We had 18 blocks in the finals [against Benet at last weekend’s Benet tournament]. We’re streaky. We need to become more consistent in order to play well.”