New Trier setter Alex Cook impresses in win over Maine South

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WINNETKA — Alex Cook was a setter on New Trier’s JV girls volleyball team a year ago, and one of the biggest benefits of playing at that level was it allowed her to watch Taylor Tashima run the offense for the Trevians’ varsity team.

Cook, a junior, said she learned a lot from watching Tashima, who was an all-state setter a year ago. She said she admired how Tashima led the team, as well as Tashima’s consistency and decision-making.

Then, during the offseason, Cook and Tashima trained together twice a week at Wildcat Juniors’ setting lessons.

“I’d always try to copy her,” Cook said of those sessions. “Everything she did, I’d try, and it definitely helped me.”

Tashima now plays for Northwestern, and Cook is one of the three setters vying to replace Tashima as the maestro of New Trier’s offense. Both Cook and New Trier coach Hannah Hsieh said the competition is ongoing — that’s true for many of the positions in the starting lineup, Hsieh added — but Cook was the only setter to play in the Trevians’ 25-8, 25-19 CSL South victory over Maine South on Tuesday, and she performed very well.

Cook seemed comfortable and confident against the Hawks. She finished with three kills and 12 assists, including many that showed off one of her biggest strengths.

“She has beautiful hands, so she’s able to have a high point of contact and [make] beautiful sets for our hitters,” Hsieh said. “She did a nice job. I was very impressed today.”

Maine South (7-9, 0-3) struggled to block the Trevians (9-6, 2-1) throughout the match. New Trier’s defense played well, which allowed Cook to run the team’s offense quickly and effectively. Nine different New Trier players finished with at least one kill, and senior middle hitter Sarah Shafiq recorded a match-high five kills.

Cook said being able to set Shafiq, who’s 6-5 and verbally committed to play for California, has been comforting this season.

“Whatever set I put up, she always puts it down, no matter what,” Cook said.

Shafiq had several emphatic kills against the Hawks, and each one drew a loud cheer from the crowd and an enthusiastic “SHAFIQ!” from New Trier’s announcer. In those instances, the energy and noise in Gates Gymnasium usually carried over to the next point.

Hsieh hopes Cook can continue to develop her voice in those loud situations.

“She definitely communicates plays and things like that, but sometimes in transition, I can’t hear her and I’m not sure all the hitters can,” Hsieh said. “I think [in] club, you don’t have that much extraneous noise. … We’re still working on her being a little more vocal and audible for us.”

Maine South

• New Trier controlled the first game of the match from the onset: The Trevians jumped out to a 13-2 advantage. Maine South struggled offensively during the first game, but junior Kristyn Tarpey had all three of her kills during that time.

• The Hawks were led in kills by senior middle hitter Nora Quinn, who had four.

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