Fremd’s Heidi Sayre and Jules Tangney were hoping to join their school choir by 7 p.m. on Thursday night to prepare for a 7:30 p.m. concert down the hall from the gymnasium.
Instead, they got a little delayed while helping their girls volleyball team to an exciting come-from-behind 18-25, 25-18, 25-14 victory over visiting Barrington in a Mid-Suburban West season opener.
Tangney took a quick set from Lydia Vander Ark (10 assists) and put it down for a kill to give Fremd a commanding 19-10 lead in Set 3.
Then it was Sayre clubbing her team-high 13th kill to the floor for a 20-11 advantage.
Moments later, senior Peyton Hooker (8 kills) blocked an overpass for the match-winning kill, allowing Sayre and Tangney to race down the hall to the concert.
“I knew it was getting to be 7 o’clock and I told them (Sayre and Tangney) ‘I can’t let you go, I need you for the third set,’ ” said a smiling Fremd coach Curt Pinley.
The Vikes (8-1, 1-0) were able to smile after the third set, and will now prepare for next week’s busy schedule of eight matches in six days.
“It happens every year at this time,” Pinley said. “We call it our ‘grinder week’ “
The Vikings had to grind it out on Thursday, after dropping the first set and then falling behind 6-1 in Set 2.
They came back to tie it on a double hit by Barrington (3-6, 0-1) and then took the lead for good at 7-6 on a kill from Sayre.
Senior libero Maddie Aichinger (4 digs) had a key ace that gave the Vikes a 17-12 lead in the set.
“Fremd is a very very nice team,” said Fillies coach Michelle Jakubowski. “They made mistakes in the first set and cleaned things up in the second and third sets.
“We started to make mistakes in second set after we got up 6-1. The next thing you know, it’s tied 6-6 and then we are down. Same thing in the third set. They did a nice job serving aggressively on us and we didn’t step up to that.”
One of those successful Vikings servers was freshman Claudia Wala, who stepped to the line for the final 3 points of the match.
She first served an ace, and then got the next 2 points on a hitting error and Hooker’s block.
“Claudia was fantastic,” Pinley said. “I could tell she was a little nervous so I said to her ‘hey breathe’ and I smiled at her. But she was so focused and did such a great job back there. We really needed that run and she was able to deliver.”
Pinley also used two other freshmen on Thursday with Rian Baker and Rylen Reid.
“I was just trying to stay calm,” said Wala about her final serves. “Playing on the varsity has been even better than I expected. At first, I was worried about being a freshman with the upper classmen. But they’ve been great and I realized this is going to be a real nice team. So I am excited for that and really excited to see what’s going to happen.”
“The older girls have been so nice and welcoming,” added Baker, who handed out 16 assists while also serving an ace.
Reid’s older sister Breslen, a junior outside hitter, put down 10 kills.
“Rylen (Reid) came in and did a did a fantastic job subbing for her sister in the second set,” Pinley said. “So all three freshmen actually played key roles in the win. Breslen did a great job coming back in for Set 3 to help us close it out.”
Peyton Tilly, an Eckerd College recruit (St. Petersburg, Fla.,) led Barrington with 13 kills. Libero Mia Ruffalo collected 13 digs while setter Tara Kozal had 27 assists with 3 aces. Bailey Madryzk, a Wheaton College (Norton, Mass.) recruit, also had a pair of aces.
“Barrington is such a great team,” Pinley added. “And their outside hitter (Tilly) is such an absolute load.
“She can bury balls and they have a nice group around her. So to be able to come back in Set 2 and finish out the third set speaks out to the kind of team we can be. But at the same time I realize that Set 1 can also be the kind of team we can be. So we have work to do to find that consistency.’
“When we are on all cylinders we’re pretty unstoppable,” Jakubowski said. “We just haven’t figured out how to play two or three sets. We play a great one, then kind of go down. When we figure that out we will be a tough team.
“The positive is that we really have some great things going now. As long as we keep progressing in those, I think in the next two or three weeks we will be playing some good consistent volleyball instead of just here and there.”