Tony Baranek’s girls volleyball notebook

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There always is a full house. There rarely is a blowout.

When Mother McAuley plays Thursday at Marist, it will be the next chapter in one of the Southland’s hottest sports rivalries.

The theme, according to Marist’s volleyball page on Twitter will be “an Animal House.”

“We’re used to it,” McAuley coach Jen DeJarld said with a chuckle. “Every gym we walk in it’s a pretty big crowd for our match, and it’s not always the friendliest.

“When we played at Joliet Catholic it was very intense and there were a lot of things said to our girls. That was a pretty tough atmosphere to play in.”

DeJarld wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s great to have 2,000 people in a gym cheering on female sports,” DeJarld said. “I think it’s great for the (Mount Greenwood) neighborhood to have people coming out and watching how talented these girls are.”

Marist is 3-1 behind Lizzie Zaleski, Cameron Enright and Colleen Reilly — all major contributors in back-to-back two-game wins over Providence and Glenbard West.

“The girls are working hard and finding success connecting on the court,” Marist coach Julie Popp-Hopkins said. “We’re expecting a great turnout for such a fun, long neighborhood rivalry (with McAuley). If we focus on our side of the net and play our game, the girls will keep finding success.”

The Macs (9-2) continued their early quest to play the best, traveling to Kentucky over the weekend where with big efforts from Ryann DeJarld, Jane DeJarld, Kelsey Clark and Kayla Caffey, they finished second in a 24-team tournament.

“Mercy (of Louisville) is one of the best teams I’ve seen in two years, and we played them great,” Jen DeJarld said. “Beating them in Game 1 was the best I’ve ever seen us play. I was really happy with what I saw from my girls both offensively and defensively.”

Middle sister

Lockport senior libero Lindsey Visvardis is part of a volleyball family. An older sister, Alyssa (2012 grad), played libero for the Porters and is a two-sport athlete (softball and volleyball) at Millikin. A younger sister, Nikki, is a freshman defensive specialist on the sophomore team.

Lindsey Visvardis, who had 400 digs in ’13, leads the team through nine matches with 102 digs and is second in aces with nine.

“Lindsey is the athlete all coaches want on their team,” Porters coach Erika Lange said. “She is a level-headed and patient leader, and 100 percent of the time she pushes herself and those around her to get better.”

On a roll

Chicago Christian (18-2) continued its blistering-hot play by winning all five matches at the Leyden Invitational behind Sam Kubik (81 assists) and Leah Kamp (38 kills). They won the title match over Westmont, 25-20, 25-19.

Player of the Week

Lizzie Zaleski, of Marist, is the SouthtownStar Girls Volleyball Player of the Week.

Zaleski, a senior setter, had 23 assists, five blocks and four kills in a win over Glenbard West and 21 assists and seven aces in a victory over Providence.

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