Joliet Catholic seniors Mary Murphy and Madeline Grimm were so in sync at times hitting from the left and the right during Thursday’s 25-17, 22-25, 25-11 East Suburban Catholic win over visiting Marian Catholic, it looked as though they’d been doing it for years.
Truth is, it’s only been that way for a couple of matches.
They used to be right and left.
The latest of several lineup changes by Angels coach Christine Scheibe might be one that sticks, although the search for consistency throughout matches continues.
Murphy finished with 14 kills and nine assists, Grimm seven kills, Megan Melone 19 assists, Mallory Krzysciak 12 digs and Nicole Witmer and Maddie Naal five kills each for Joliet Catholic (6-6, 1-1).
Marian Catholic (6-11, 0-3) was led by Colette Scheffers (11 kills), Madeline Huekels (7 kills, 20 assists), Allison Militsky (10 digs), Dana Zavesky (10 digs) and Ashley Sledge (4 blocks).
The right and left switcheroo between Murphy and Grimm came about because of an apparently pretty accurate discovery by assistant coach Rhyen Staley.
“I have messed up eyesight,” Grimm said, laughing. “It’s a whole thing, like, I’m more dominant in my right eye than my left eye. So I see the ball better when I hit from the right side. I’ve been able to tell the difference — but it’s crazy.”
Grimm went crazy on Marian in Game 1 when, with the score tied at 16, she hit back-to-back rockets from the right side for kills. It seemed to send a spark over to the left side, where Murphy blasted one spike through a double block, put down an overpass, sent one screamer down the left line and twice curled over to the middle and cut two paths through the middle of Marian’s defense to turn a nail-biter into a blowout.
“That was the game where we were the most powerful,” Murphy said. “It was kill after kill after kill. I think after we get more consistent it can be like that all the time. It’s going to be good.”
It didn’t happen Thursday. With momentum in their corner, the Angels gave it away by making six unforced errors that contributed to Marian’s first seven points in Game 2. The Spartans helped themselves as well, Huekels serving for two aces and Scheffers smartly working the net for tip-kills.
Down 15-11, Marian rallied to the lead, and in a back-and-forth tussle near the finish was able to close it out on a quick-set kill by Allyson Brooks.
Grimm and Murphy were instrumental for Joliet Catholic at the start of Game 3, while three aces by Megan Cladis and later a flurry kills by Naal allowed the Angels right the ship and steadily pull away.
“I like this lineup a lot and I think the coaches like it a lot,” Murphy said. “In this match it was kind of up and down, but on Tuesday (against Benet) and (Thursday) this was probably the best we’ve played in a while. This lineup, I think this should be it.”
It was another at least partially impressive showing for Marian, which of late battled Marist in one of two games and went three with St. Ignatius.
“We’ve probably had four games out of our last five where at the end I thought it was our best game of the year,” Spartans coach Ryan Summers aid. “Our record doesn’t show how good of ball we’re playing. We’re just having trouble in Game 3. But man, the kids are playing hard and getting better every game, and that’s all you can ask for.”