Nationally recognized Benet volleyball takes perfect record into key weekend tourney
Benet is in the midst of an undefeated season that has garnered them a No. 9 ranking in the USA Today Super 25.
Benet’s volleyball team welcomes all challengers.
To this point in the season, no team has gotten the better of them.
The Redwings, who have produced several top 10 rankings nationally (No. 9 in USA Today) and locally (No. 6 in PrepVolleyball.com and No. 1 in IllPrep Volleyball) this season, are taking their undefeated record (23-0) into the St. Charles East Scholastic Cup this weekend at the Great Lakes Volleyball Center in Aurora.
“It’s been a great season so far,” junior setter Rachel Muisenga said. “We’ve been able to win them all and we’ve had some tough ones. ... We play really great defense and we’re tall at the front line.”
The Redwings, who have at least nine players who are 5-9 or taller, know they will get everyone’s best game because they are the tourney’s top seed.
Their plan is to remain perfect.
“We talk before each game about who we’re playing and what we’re going see on the court,” Muisenga said. “We’re taking each game one at a time.”
The Redwings, who took third place in last season’s IHSA 4A state playoffs, have a group of players who have received Division I scholarship offers: senior outside hitter Sophie Gregus (Illinois), senior outside hitter Colleen McGuire (UC-Davis for beach volleyball), senior libero Hattie Monson (Notre Dame) and Muisenga (Penn State).
“We know we have a target on our backs,” Monson said. “We know what matters to us, and we try to keep our composure. We try not to get too excited or overconfident because we know we’re getting everyone’s best game.”
Redwings coach Brad Baker, who took over the program in 2007, has won three state titles at the Lisle Catholic high school.
He says the girls varsity team has averaged 35 wins a year since he became coach.
“We talk to the girls about enjoying the moment,” Baker said. “It’s really hard to win a state title.
“You have to enjoy your teammates and enjoy what’s going on. On Thursdays, we like to have fun.”
For a group that’s in the middle of an undefeated season, the Redwings treat their opponents as one in the same — unless they’re playing Marist.
Earlier this season, they beat Marist, their East Suburban Catholic Conference rival, in the championship game of the Autumn Fest Volleyball tournament.
In the game, the Redhawks won the first set. And held a 24-23 lead in the second set when the Redwings mounted a comeback. They eventually took the third set to claim victory.
“It was a really big moment for us,” said Monson, a four-year varsity player. “We hadn’t beat them [Marist] in that tournament in my career here. It showed our skill and grit.”
The Redwings won’t brag or boast about their undefeated season, except to call the ride “rewarding.”
“Being undefeated says a lot because the matches weren’t easy,” said Gregus, who joined the varsity as a sophomore. “It’s fun playing teams who are bringing their all. It feels good to be respected; teams are scouting and preparing for us.”