PLAINFIELD – A rivalry between the girls volleyball teams from Minooka and Plainfield Central combined with playing on the benefit night Hits for HUGS, which supports the Shorewood H.U.G.S. charity, assured that Tuesday’s Southwest Prairie Conference match would be hard-fought.
Although the records and accolades favored the Indians, the host Wildcats proved to be up to the challenge. Central almost won the first set and battled for most of the second set before a late run by Minooka (21-5, 7-1 SPC) led to a 27-25, 25-17 SPC victory.
“We’re really trying to focus on more team communication, bonding and not making so many unforced errors,” Indians coach Carrie Prosek said. “We’ve had a lot of hitting errors lately, but I think this helps us with our confidence going on.”
Leading the way for the Indians were Desiree Anderson (11 kills, 10 digs), Heidi Bonde (nine kills, eight digs), Zoey Seput (27 assists, nine digs), Samantha Zurawski (nine service points) and Mia Alessio (14 digs).
“We knew that the energy would be high for this game because of Hits for Hugs, and it was Plainfield Central,” Bonde said. “I thought we used that to our advantage, especially in the second set. We’ve definitely been working together and communicating a lot more.”
The Wildcats rallied from a late 22-19 deficit in the first set to go up, 23-22, during a service run by Taylor Landfair (13 kills) that featured a kill from Emerson Weissenhofer (six kills), blocks from Cadence Cagwin and Hannah Ruane and a kill by Landfair.
Central looked like it might win the first set with a Landfair kill for the 26th point, but the Indians got a dig from Zoey Seput and eventually tied it at 25.
The Wildcats trailed by as many as four points during the second set, but rallied to tie the match four times and even took the lead, 14-13, on a kill by Landfair.
But a kill by Bonde set up a run of seven-straight service points from Zurawski, which featured two kills from Anderson and made it 23-15. Anderson later wrapped up the match with another kill for the final point.
“It was nerve-racking at first on the serves, but once I got them in and we got our passes up and kills made, it was really easy for me to keep going,” Zurawski said. “We’re doing very well, and I feel that we’re strong all around.”
Other Indians who had key plays included Holly Kropke and Jada Hampton, while the Wildcats got contributions from Jennifer Shook, Aubree Ricketts, Quiara Dunson and Taylor Babec.
“It was a great crowd and a really competitive environment, and Minooka played really hard and executed at a high level,” Wildcats coach Erik Vogt said. “Taylor hit really well, but we just couldn’t get her on the net as much as we wanted to.”
Minooka recently drew the No. 1 seed in its half of the Class 4A O’Fallon Sectional, while Central is seeded No. 8 in the 4A Bolingbrook Sectional.