Shorthanded Highland Park handles Deerfield

SHARE Shorthanded Highland Park handles Deerfield
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DEERFIELD — The Highland Park girls volleyball team was down three starters heading into its match against Deerfield Wednesday night.

To beat an improved Warriors team on the road, the Giants needed strong performances from second-team players. That’s just what they got, as Highland Park (7-8, 1-1 CSL North) defeated Deerfield 25-15, 25-11 in a Central Suburban North rivalry match.

“It was nice to see. It was nice to see other girls that normally wouldn’t be in that starting lineup step up and shine a little bit,” Giants coach Beth Peterson said.

Highland Park sophomores Taylor Czerwinski (outside hitter) and Leah Weiss (libero) and junior outside hitter Grace Rhoades all missed the game with various injuries. Forced into action were senior hitters Kathleen McKean and Emily Korman. Normally an outside, Korman moved into the middle of the Giants’ rotation.

It was difficult to detect a drop off as the Giants were never challenged by mistake-prone Deerfield (7-7, 0-2). Senior Stela Kukoc was the best player on the floor, finishing with seven kills, many from the back row on well-positioned sets from senior Alison Perlman (11 assists).

“I think it was important for us to get off to a good start,” Perlman said of the Giants’ leads of 9-3 in the first game and 10-4 in the second. “It’s nice for us to run plays and get us more momentum and a lot of fun to run things we normally do in practice.”

Deerfield’s best run was in the first game. A 16-7 deficit was shrunk to 19-14 after a block from junior hitter Natalie Behling. But the Giants responded with a 5-0 run, two points coming from Kukoc blocks. The Warriors were unable to find holes above the net and struggled with their serve, regularly giving free points to the Giants.

In the second game, five of Highland Park’s first nine points were a result of Warrior errors.

“We’re a younger team and we’ve had our ups and downs all season,” Warriors coach Eugene Chung said. “We’ve shown moments when we can be really good and times where the people who were good the night before [are not the next game]. It’s the inconsistencies of youth.”

Junior middle Mattie Giese finished with three blocks for the Giants. Senior libero Julien Bloom anchored the Highland Park defense with eight digs.

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