Shorthanded Buffalo Grove volleyball wins title to remember

SHARE Shorthanded Buffalo Grove volleyball wins title to remember

VERNON HILLS – Buffalo Grove’s girls volleyball team won the Vernon Hills Cougar Classic over the weekend. The circumstances made it special.

Saturday, the day of the tournament, was an ACT testing day. Four seniors — Marie Georgoulis, Monica Browne, Maddi Morini and Rebecca Katz – took the test.

The Bison had to carry on without them.

“We didn’t know until [Sept. 6],” coach Matt Priban said. “We only had Friday to practice.”

Priban knew replacing Georgoulis, the team’s senior setter, as well as Browne, a senior outside hitter, would be no easy task and would test the program’s depth. Juniors Anna Fasuna and Sara Tolvstad got the call from the junior varsity.

Priban said he felt comfortable with Fasuna, a setter, and Tolvstad, an outside hitter.

“It was the aggressiveness [Tolvstad] had,” Priban said. “She wanted to go up and get that kill. That’s somewhat rare. We had confidence in [Fasuna]. We had no doubt she could execute.”

Buffalo Grove easily won its first match Saturday morning, beating Vernon Hills 25-13, 25-11.

“That kind of got us going,” senior middle hitter Teagan Hutchings said. “It was a slower-paced [match] and we were like, ‘We have to pick it up [because] that’s not how it’s going to be.’ ”

The Bison were sluggish in their next match, a three-game loss to Lake Park.

But after a 25-11, 25-22 victory over Jones College Prep in the third round, the Bison played Glenbrook North. The Spartans, a Class 4A sectional qualifier in 2013, looked to be the toughest test of the day, and the Bison responded. The team’s 5-1 offensive system clicked, with Fasuna in rhythm with senior hitter Alicia Kantor, Hutchings and Tolvstad.

Priban said the 25-19, 25-23 victory over the Spartans revealed much about the Bison.

“We were pretty shaky in the beginning,” Priban said. “But to see them rebound and come together in general, it was nice to see the younger girls step up.”

There was a delay before the final match. During the wait, a spectator revealed Buffalo Grove’s place in the tournament standings.

“We found out we were in first place,” Hutchings said. “We were like, ‘Heck yeah!’ ”

Needing to beat Jacobs to remain on top, Buffalo Grove won 25-19, then lost 18-25. Mentally and physically exhausted from playing their fifth match in five hours, the Bison received a lift.

Morini returned for the Jacobs match, providing passing depth from the back row. Browne, Katz and Georgoulis made their presence felt on the bench.

“All of us were deadbeat tired and they helped by cheering and giving us energy,” Hutchings said.

A 15-8 third-game victory gave the Bison the match and a first-place finish. It was a program championship all the way.

“This year I can feel a difference,” Hutchings said. “We are a whole lot stronger than we have been. We care more about the team. I love it.”

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