The Evanston Township High School girls volleyball team finished last season with a 31-7 record, their best in school history. But a loss in the Super Sectionals to Central Suburban League South Conference foe Glenbrook South left a bad taste. The Wildkits are hungry to go further this season.
“I believe we can get there again,” said head coach Pam MacPherson. She added, “Every year my goal is to improve each individual player and to advance to state. After going downstate once [in 2008], it’s hard to settle for anything less.”
In addition to going downstate, MacPherson said, “My main goal is to win conference, [which] ETHS has not won since 1987.” The way they will accomplish these goals is with “discipline, commitment, effort, and being smarter than your opponent,” she said.
Coach MacPherson is counting on her returning starters to play a key role in the team’s success this season. Those returning starters include junior and team captain Casey Durham as well as senior captains Maddie Fitzpatrick and Delaney Clesen.
In the season-opener on Aug. 24, the Kits visited Northside College Prep and won the match with scores of 25-11 and 25-18. Durham led the Kits with 11 kills and two aces. Fitzpatrick had five kills and one ace, with Lauren Teske chipping in with 14 assists and Charlotte Runzel adding 9 assists.
“We are running a complex offense so there were of course glitches and first-game jitters,” said MacPherson regarding her team’s play against Northside. She added, “We have a long way to go to reach our goals but we have a very committed group. I know they are willing to work.”
The next day, the Kits played their first home game of the year against Loyola at Beardsley Gym in Evanston. The Kits won in two sets, 25-20 and 25-17. In the first set, the Kits had a 15-8 lead but Loyola responded with a 5-1 run to get within 3 at 16-13. From there, the Kits increased their lead to 20-14 and held on to win the set, 25-20.
In the second set, the Kits only trailed once at 1-0. Then an 8-1 run put the Kits in the driver’s seat, and they did not look back, taking the set, 25-17. Durham finished with 11 kills, four blocks and one ace. Fitzpatrick had eight kills, five blocks and one ace. Teske added 27 assists, with Clesen totaling 17 digs.
As of Aug. 30, the Kits hold a 2-0, record. The Kits were scheduled to play Warren High School on Aug. 31, the day this paper went to press. From there, they participate in the New Trier Invite on Sept. 3-4, and return home to face Lake Forest on Sept. 7.
If all goes to plan, look for the Kits to be playing for a conference title as well as a state title at the end of the year.