VOLLEYBALL: Boilers best Irish in All-City clash
BRADLEY — There’s always a different feel in the air when Bradley-Bourbonnais and Bishop McNamara square off.
Gyms are packed, students and fans are filled with excitement, and the teams raise their games to levels they quite possibly hadn’t reached all season.
All those elements were packed inside Donald K. Turner gymnasium on Wednesday, and it was the Boilers getting the upper hand against the Irish in straight sets, 25-16 and 25-18.
“Gyms were not packed like tonight back when I played,” Bradley-Bourbonnais coach Kary Dowling said. “The girls know Bishop McNamara’s team way better than me since they play club ball together. I think our girls are starting to get it that they can do research and watch game film, which is neat. They’re starting to pick out tendencies of other teams and really maturing.”
After a series of ties and lead changes to start the first set, Chloe Memenga served an ace followed by back-to-back kills from Allie Scheiwiller and Liz Schriner to give the Boilers a 10-6 lead.
The Irish battled back and cut the lead down to 15-14 but ran out of gas, and the Boilers finished on a 10-2 run, including six straight to claim the first set.
“It was a close match, but the girls didn’t waver and had control of themselves from start to finish,” Dowling said. “They did really well, and I didn’t think we had any major issues. These types of battles are the games that we need to have night in and night out. We’ve had great energy in practice, and I’m glad I saw it on the floor in the game.”
The second set was lather, rinse and repeat. After more ties and a couple of lead changes, Mallory Januski logged a kill that gave the Boilers a 14-13 lead.
After that, the Boilers were simply too much for the Irish to handle as Memenga and Schriner, along with Gianna Basile’s serving, pushed them to the finish line for the victory.
“We didn’t play poorly, but we also didn’t play with as much energy as we could have,” Bishop McNamara coach George Hagemaster said. “We passed the ball well and tried to use our speed on both sides, but [Bradley-Bourbonnais’] size got to us.”
Bradley-Bourbonnais has shown to be a team full of talent that was missing a big piece to its puzzle.
However, after Wednesday’s contest, it might have found that crucial piece in Gianna Basile.
Just a freshman, Basile stepped into uncharted waters, showing no fear of the bright lights, and played as if she was a seasoned veteran.
“She’s not afraid to overplay and take some of those balls, which I’m sure our outside players don’t mind at all,” Dowling said. “They’re starting to gain more confidence in her, and it’s sparking our defensive play. I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
She placed her serves perfectly, rotated defensively, set the tone and took charge in the back row.
She finished the night with team-highs of nine digs and three aces, including serving a 6-0 run with an ace that ended the first set.
“We’ve slowly been working her in with some double practices, and she got her opportunity in the Limestone tournament a couple weeks ago,” Dowling said. “I won’t lie, I was a little nervous about a freshman coming in such a big spot at such an important position, and she played with extreme confidence. No one wants to take control in the back row, but Gianna does, and she was outstanding.”
Bradley-Bourbonnais is back in Saturday morning as it hosts the Bradley-Bourbonnais tournament. Bishop McNamara hits the road today at Wheaton St. Francis.