Naperville Central found a way.
Junior outside hitter Sam Herron had nine kills and a block, junior Cammy Murphy added five kills and a block and freshman setter Brenna Hess had 20 assists, a kill and an ace Tuesday as the Redhawks overcame an 18-16 deficit in Set 3 to defeat visiting Downers Grove North, 25-20, 18-25, 26-24.
Naperville Central coach Jeff Danborn was pleased to pull out a win in his team’s season opener, particularly with junior setter Andi Davenport sidelined by a neck sprain.
“They (Downers Grove North) kept balls alive that I thought were going to go down,” he said. “I thought we were serving very aggressively, but there were a couple of moments when you could hear the gym go ‘Ooooh’ when a ball just crossed over the net.
“Their hitters found ways to get out of situations and they kept us on our toes, but in a three-set match like that we’ll take it.”
After winning Game 1, Central quickly fell behind 16-6 in the second set. The Redhawks climbed to within three points on two occasions, but could get no closer.
“We were getting picked on in two serve-receives,” Danborn said. “We moved some girls around and finally got it straightened out, but our whole rhythm was off. But the girls were able to stay balanced, work back into it and outscore the other team down the stretch.”
Naperville Central’s 6-2 senior Phoebe Havenaar saw little of the ball, finishing with just two kills and two blocks to go along with a pair of aces. But she had high praise for Hess, who had nine assists and a kill in Game 3.
“Brenna was obviously doing as much as she could,” Havenaar said. “Being a freshman, she did amazing in her first high school match. This just showed how much we’re working in the gym together, being able to pull it back in the third game in a tight match. It was really awesome to see.”
Junior Leah Rogoz led Downers North (1-1) with seven kills and a block, Grace Larson added five kills and an ace, and Mary Helen Beacom had 17 assists, a kill and a block. But after tying the third set at 23-23 on a kill by Katie Laio, two errors gave Naperville Central its final two points of the match.
“It was ugly from both sides,” Downers North coach Mark Wasik said. “They gave us a free ball to give us match point and we overpassed it to them. A sophomore passed the ball. We still got some youthful positions out there.
“But I’m also running a pretty complex offense that’s probably a little too much for them at this juncture, so it’s biting us in the butt a little bit. The system we ran was probably a little too much for them, but it hasn’t been for lack of practice.”