Yorkville slows down, but can’t stop Nazareth at Fall Harvest Festival

Libero Gillian Grimes and her Nazareth teammates punched their ticket into the Gold bracket by winning their first two matches at the Plainfield Central Fall Harvest Festival sponsored by Illprepvb.com. (Photos by Dave Ruggles).

The English-language pangram, “The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog,” certainly did not apply to Nazareth’s second-round match against Yorkville Friday in a Plainfield Central Fall Harvest Festival Pool E finale at Plainfield North.

“That was not the pace we’re used to,” said Nazareth setter/rightside hitter Ella Sandt after the No. 5-seeded Roadrunners weathered a late-hour match against the Yorkville Foxes, 25-20, 25-22, to advance to Saturday’s Gold bracket at Plainfield Central.

“I think just playing at a different pace is always challenging, because our last tournament we played Loyola, which is a very fast-paced team, then we played Carmel earlier this week, and that was pretty fast,” she added.

“I think when you go from such a fast-paced game then you slow it down, everything slows down – your energy, your communication. That’s something we need to improve on. Force the pace and force our own game, no matter who’s on the other side of the net.”

Nazareth (23-5) will likely see a different style of play Saturday when it takes on Minooka in a Gold bracket quarterfinal at 9:00 a.m. at Plainfield Central.

“I think we know from Point 1 tomorrow is going to be a very challenging day,” Sandt said. “Minooka is obviously a very good team, and then if we can pull that one out, we get to play Marist, which I know were all pretty motivated about.

“I think we’ll come out stronger tomorrow,” she said.

THEY SAID IT: “We’ve been at the Plano tournament this weekend for the past 10 years or so. It was a good tournament, but it wasn’t super challenging and with this group of juniors, I wanted to challenge them this year. Plainfield North is the best team we’ve played all year, hands down, and they were phenomenal. The pace that they run was good for us to see. That’s nothing near what we’ll have to face in the future because were back in Class 2A. This tournament will help us prepare for that. (Playing here) we’ll see bigger, better stuff and get inspired a little bit.” – Timothy Christian coach Scott Piersma, whose team features seven juniors including middle hitter Greta Hoogstra, setter Campbell Marshall, libero Ali Meyers, outside hitter Annie Taylor and outside hitter Hannah Schuringa.

THEY SAID IT: “I don’t think we’ve ever finished higher than fifth here, but it’s just all about seeing competition before going into the postseason. These teams will do their best to expose what you’re not good at, and then you get a couple of weeks to try to tune that stuff up before the postseason starts. There’s still a lot of learning happening. The competition’s great. It’s not that we’re not being challenged in central Illinois. We’ve just been playing really efficient against all these teams. It’s just a healthy dose of maturity and leadership with some talented young kids that has allowed us to have the record that we have so far.” — Normal U-High coach Mike Bulhuis, whose 25-3 team features 6-2 Boston College recruit Alayna Crabtree and 5-10 setter and Winthrop recruit Isabel Schaefbauer.  

THEY SAID IT: “When we get on serve-receive, we cannot break. That’s where we struggle. We need to pass well to be in system to keep our hitters live. They (Nazareth) took us out of serve-receive. That’s been our downfall, when teams break us down. We’re playing a little 6-2 this weekend. (Aleksa) Curta hasn’t swung much this season. She’s strictly a 5-1 setter 90 percent of the time, so were trying a 6-2 to see how it looks going into the playoffs. At times, she swings. At other times, we need her to set. We just need to manage first contact better.” — Richards head coach Troy Grevengoed.

THEY SAID IT: “I’m a little nostalgic. I had an awesome four years. I’ve had awesome girls on my team. It’s been such a great experience. I played some setter. I played outside. I played right side. I’ve been able to see the court from so many different perspectives. I’ve been playing with some these girls since fifth grade. I won a national title with my club team (Sports Performance 18 Kahl) last summer, which was awesome. We had a lot of great seniors and I’m sad to see them go. Next year I’m going to William & Mary College in Virginia. It will definitely be a change (weather-wise). I’ll be 40 minutes from the ocean. I already checked it out. I’ll spend some time there when it’s nice.” – Glenbard North’s four-year starting outside hitter Maddie Meyers.

THEY SAID IT: “I thought we played pretty well in the first set against Marist. We just fell apart in Game 2. But we beat a St. Charles North team that beat Cary-Grove, who’s the No. 2 seed in the sectional, last weekend. That’s a good sign for us. (Five-foot-10 sophomore outside hitter) Amanda Holsen really stepped up against St. Charles North. She had a little harder time against Marist’s block, but to come back in our second match and still continued to play the way she plays for us, that’s good to know. Grace Tully, our setter, did a good job of being aggressive at the net and attacking for us, dumping the ball. I thought that was pretty much a game-changer for us. And middle hitter Anna Potocki played well against Marist and she also played really, really well against St. Charles North. She had some key points for us. She’s a three-sport athlete so she doesn’t play club. Those three really stood out today.” – Stevenson coach Tim Crow.

THEY SAID IT: “I’m not happy with that. We had our chances. But when you’re up 11-6 and you don’t win, that’s on you. We missed a couple of key serves late. We got a little hesitant and they just let it fly. We just didn’t handle that pressure very well. It’s disappointing, because we really wanted to see what we can do. Now we’ve got to salvage something out of the Bronze bracket.” — Herscher coach Joel Huizenga, whose team squandered leads of 21-18 in Game 2 and 11-6 in Game 3 during an 8-25, 27-25, 18-16 loss to Yorkville, a team they beat earlier this year, in their opening-round match Friday at Plainfield North.  

ON THE RECORD: Marist (28-2), Plainfield North (26-3), Nazareth (23-5), Normal U-High (25-3).

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