Girls volleyball notebook: Deerfield, Stevenson prep for postseason success

Chicago Tribune Sports 0 month ago

Deerfield’s Erin Keating is narrowing down her selections for playing volleyball in college.

Keating, a senior middle hitter, is interested in a small group of schools with top-tier academics that will challenge her.

“It’s looking pretty good right now, talking to a couple of schools,” Keating said.

The 6-foot Keating doesn’t have to look very far for a challenge on the court. She’s one of the most experienced and talented players on the Warriors and has Chicago Bounce Volleyball Club owner Blake Orlov as her coach.

“She’s trying to play in college,” Orlov said of Keating. “I think she’s a college-level player. She’s a dynamic player on the court. She really gets up and causes havoc with her block. There’s a few schools that she’s talking with.”

The Warriors (12-13) lost all three of their matches Friday in pool play at the Discovery Invite, hosted by New Trier and Glenbrook North. They have played a challenging schedule that Orlov hopes will pay off in the state playoffs. The Warriors are seeded fourth in the Class 3A Vernon Hills Sectional.

“I feel it’s a very talented group of girls,” Orlov said. “We’ve had our highs and a couple of lows, but in my tenure this is one of the stronger teams we’ve had. We’re more consistent, really strong serving and have girls that are capable of playing a lot of positions.

“With us, we’re moving down to Class 3A. We’re challenging ourselves against some of the best Class 4A competition. We’ve played against a lot of good teams. We’ve held ourselves well. That bodes well for us.”

Cozzi sparks Patriots: Stevenson’s Lily Cozzi is nearing the end of her time playoff volleyball. She has no current plans to continue playing in college.

The Patriots, who have won 17 of their first 25 matches, scheduled their senior night for Wednesday against Warren.

“I’ve played for so long, so it will be weird for it to finally come to an end,” Cozzi said.

The Patriots are seeded third in the Class 4A Warren Sectional, right behind Cary-Grove and Libertyville. They entered the week with an undefeated record in North Suburban Conference matches and lead Libertyville by one set in a suspended match that will be finished later this month.

“We want to win the conference title,” Cozzi said. “We have to focus on our blocking and being a confident and aggressive team. We can do that by playing together. We’re excited to see Libertyville again.”

Stevenson coach Tim Crow said his team is coming together at the right time of the season. The Patriots won their first two matches on Friday before losing to host New Trier at the Discovery Invite.

“We’re definitely making improvements,” Crow said. “We’ve had a good, solid schedule full of good teams, like this tournament, and the Plainfield (Central) tournament. We want to continue to grow and get better.

"Over the last three weeks of the season, we’ve seen significant improvement of our play. We’re using these next couple of weeks to get ready for the playoffs and try and win our conference.”

McBride adjusts for Bison: Ella McBride just wanted to help her team win games.

So when the Buffalo Grove coaching staff asked McBride to shift from outside hitter to libero last season, she didn’t hesitate. After playing libero for part of last season on the junior varsity squad, McBride is now the starting libero on the varsity team.

Buffalo Grove defeated Rolling Meadows on Saturday to finish 11th at the Discovery Invite.

“I was an outside (hitter) up until last year,” McBride said. “I started volleyball in sixth grade, so I’ve been an outside the whole time. They needed someone to step up. I saw the opportunity and wanted to help the team in any way. I like it a lot. It’s good experience, and I might want to play in college.

"I have to stay disciplined on defense, can’t cheat in too far to the middle, but I can’t be too far back.”

Bob Narang is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.

Twitter @Pioneer_Press

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