Rosary getting ready for a new (2A) day; IC Prep reaches Silver at Tiger Classic

Jessica Gardella (17), Sarah Konovodoff (2), Paige Gardella (11) and their Rosary teammates hope to find success in the IHSA Class 2A tournament later this season.

Rosary is among the schools that joined the exodus from Class 3A to 2A this season thanks to the IHSA’s new enrollment policy.

But was it really that much of a blessing?

Sure, Rosary will avoid perennial nemesis and Metro Suburban Conference foe St. Francis in the playoffs.  Nazareth is out of the picture, too.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to play in 2A this year,” said Rosary’s veteran libero Sarah Konovodoff. “We’re going harder and harder in practice now because we feel there are some teams in Class 2A that we beat. We’re really excited about it.”

But a quick glance at the IHSA Class 2A assignments indicates that Class 2A won’t be a picnic, either.

Rosary was assigned to the Genoa-Kingston sectional, where it finds itself in a sub-sectional with another 3A defector, Montini, and small-school powerhouse Rock Falls, which knocked off No. 1 (3A) Sterling on Tuesday.

Waiting in the supersectional at Johnsburg could be IC Catholic Prep.

Rosary head coach Bill Allen adjusted his team’s schedule accordingly this season. He dropped out of one predominately Class 4A tournament and added a tournament later this season at Plano which features several smaller schools.

However, he kept his team in this week’s Tiger Classic at Wheaton Warrenville South, where the Royals fell to the host Tigers, 25-15, 25-14, and Neuqua Valley, 25-19, 25-16.

“We like to play good competition to get us ready for the playoffs and for conference,” Allen said. “We’re excited to play these teams because they expose our weaknesses and they will get us ready for what we need to be ready for.”

Rosary is built around a nucleus of five seniors – Konovodoff, 5-9 setter Paige Gardella, her twin and a 5-8 setter Jessica Gardella, 6-foot middle hitter Celeste Cozzoni and 6-1 outside hitter Molly Mulvey.

“We also have Brianna Fischetti, a 5-10 sophomore outside hitter who we need to get more playing time and touches, and defensive specialists Brooke Capparelli and Rory Haddock,” Allen said. “Rory has been hurt, so we’re waiting for her to come back. We’re just one piece away.”

While Rosary will find itself in the Bronze bracket on Saturday following its two losses Wednesday, another Class 2A team in the Tiger Classic field, IC Catholic Prep, will be playing in the Silver after surprising Downers Grove North, 25-16, 25-17, in pool play Wednesday.

IC Catholic Prep is making it second appearance in the Tiger Classic. Wednesday’s 24-26, 25-12, 25-7 loss to Plainfield North was the Knights’ first of the season.

“I love it here,” said IC Catholic Prep coach Nancy Kerrigan. “This is where you see exactly where you’re at. It’s difficult sometimes to get that during the regular season.

“We’ve got a great conference and some good matches, but you got to find tournaments where you’re going to be tested and pushed,” she added. “I like the timing of this one. It exposes some things and you still have time to work on them.”

IC Catholic Prep relies on 5-10 junior outside hitter Jess Sobon, 5-10 sophomore outside hitter Claire Wagner, 5-8 junior setter Sophie Hurt and 5-5 libero Bella Leslie.

Hurt has been hurt recently, and Kerrigan has employed nine different rotations in the Knights’ last four matches while she gets back to full speed.

Other key players for IC Catholic Prep are junior defensive specialists Maddi and Morgan Benson, 5-11 junior middle blocker Kristen Brachmann and 5-11 opposite/middle blocker Olivia Palumbo.

“We’re going to get better,” Kerrigan said. “Attacking errors just killed us (against Plainfield North). It buried us. It has a ripple effect. But we clean that up, we reduce the errors, and I think we’re in pretty good shape.”

THEY SAID IT: “I thought we came out a little shaky, but once we got into a groove it was smooth sailing from there.  Sometimes we just start slow. Sometimes our energy is lacking. But once we get louder, our game gets strong and it’s better from there.” – Benet junior outside hitter Kyla Kenney.

BY THE NUMBERS: No. 1 seed Marist defeated Metea Valley, 25-13, 25-14, and Geneva, 25-22, 25-22; No. 2 seed Benet defeated Oswego East, 25-16, 25-12, and Prairie Ridge, 25-18, 25-13; No. 3 seed Sandburg defeated Harvest Christian, 25-14, 25-14, and St. Charles North, 25-19, 25-18; No. 4 seed Plainfield North defeated IC Catholic Prep, 24-26, 25-12, 25-7, and Downers Grove North, 25-22, 25-11; No. 5 seed Waubonsie Valley defeated Wheaton North, 25-22, 25-12, and Lemont, 25-13, 25-17; No. 6 seed Lincoln-Way East defeated DeKalb, 25-19, 25-21, and Great Crossing (Kentucky); 25-16, 25-22; No. 7 seed Wheaton Warrenville South defeated Rosary, 25-15, 25-14, and Neuqua Valley, 15-25, 25-18, 25-11; and No. 8 seed Plainfield Central defeated Hinsdale South, 19-25, 25-15, 25-14, and Libertyville, 25-20, 25-21.

ON THE RECORD: Marist (10-1), Benet (13-0), Sandburg (12-0), Plainfield North (14-2), Waubonsie Valley (7-3), Lincoln-Way East (10-2), Wheaton Warrenville South (9-5).  


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