Downers North rides big run to victory

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Redemption was just a day away for Downers North.

The Trojans (2-1) used a 15-0 run in Set 1 to break a 7-7 tie, then fought off two set points in Set 2 to defeat Lincoln-Way East 25-10, 28-26 Wednesday in Downers Grove and hand the Griffins their second straight loss to open the season.

Meanwhile, the win helped ease the sting of the Trojans’ 25-20, 18-25, 26-24 loss Tuesday at Naperville Central.

“Right after that game we knew we had to pick it up and come together as a team more,” said Downers North setter Mary Helen Beacom. “We were just like, ‘All right, we have tomorrow.’ We were focused on this game right away.”

Beacom went to the service line in Set 1 with the Trojans nursing an 8-7 lead. She didn’t leave until Lincoln-Way East’s Kiara Fuessel finally banged home a winner from the left side. But by that time, the Trojans were enjoying a 22-8 lead.

“It was tiring,” Beacom said.

But it was even harder to watch for Lincoln-Way East coach Linda Vivona.

“When we are a little bit under where we normally are, when we have a player who tends to bring the fire and the energy off a little bit, we have to make sure others step up and play with more confidence and efficiency,” Vivona said.

“The second set could have gone either way. We battled real well. We wanted it. There were girls out there who really wanted it, that were fighting. if I see them fighting, I have to take my hat off to the fight.”

Lincoln-Way East built a 15-12 lead midway through the second set, but Downers North pulled even at 23-23. The Griffins had set points at 25-24 and 26-25, but could not put the Trojans away. A pair of kills by Rogoz and Alexia May’s third kill of the set finally finished off the match.

Beacom had 18 assists and an ace, freshman Clare Delaplane had five kills and two blocks and May and Katie Laio each had three kills for Downers North, which was playing without leading attacker Grace Larson (left leg injury).

“Without Grace, it made me think about the different hitters more, which one I can set in each situation,” Beacom said. “It definitely helped me learn about other players and what other players can do. Not having the harder hitter every time was hard, but we still had enough to finish it.”

Kailey Hackett led Lincoln-Way East (0-2) with five assists, four kills, a block and an ace. Sarah Dobrich had three kills and three blocks, but rotated out of Set 1 before the decisive run. Libero Maddie Nirchi led the defense with 11 digs.

“We just have to come together as a team and all of our underclassmen need to build some confidence and we’ll be good,” Nirchi said. “We all have the talent, we just have to be confident that when we go out there and they put a block in front of us, it’s the same thing as hitting at each other in practice.

“I think that confidence is just going to feed off our upperclassmen. We need to prove to them that they’re fine to make a mistakes out there because we all went though it, too, as juniors and sophomores. The upperclassmen need to step up a little bit and let them know it’s all good.”

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