MINOOKA – It’s been a few years since Minooka’s girls volleyball team has beaten Joliet Catholic Academy.
That helps explain why the Indians and their fans were celebrating on the court after they captured a 25-16, 25-23 nonconference win over the Angels on Wednesday.
Minooka came out of the gates with a strong hitting attack in the opening set and then weathered a determined JCA effort in the second set to improve to 2-0 on the season.
Ginger Perinar led the way for the Indians with 17 kills, four blocks and four digs while Allison Papesh had five kills and Cynthia Ley added five aces and four kills.
“We’ve got a great group of kids that is very focused,” Indians coach Chris Hoelscher said. “We did some team-building things during the summer, and we asked them to commit to defense. The kids really followed the game plan and we focused a lot on serving, and after having some early errors but when we found our rhythm, then we took over.
“I told Ginger this summer that this would be her coming-out party. She struggled a lot as a freshman and last year a little bit, too. She looks so confident and strong right now. Nerves showed at the beginning, but you expect that. But we had a great crowd and our Indian Nation takeover group was our seventh or eighth person today, they were fabulous.”
In the opener, things were still close midway through but then the Indians gradually started to pull away. Two kills by Perinar kicked off a 7-0 run, which featured three aces from Ley as well as another Perinar kill to give the hosts a 23-14 lead.
After the Angels (1-2) were able to get a couple of points back, Perinar closed out the initial set with another kill and a block.
“We wanted to come in hard, and I think that we did well,” Ley said. “I don’t even know that last time that we’d beat JCA so beating them today was really big. This makes our team believe that we’ll be tough to beat and we just have to keep working hard. I like how we’re very good at coming back together after a bad point and get super-excited after a kill.”
The second set was much more competitive after JCA jumped out to an early 6-3 advantage. The Angels held the lead or were tied for it until Minooka grabbed a 16-15 advantage.
After kills by Ley and Perinar, Minooka went up, 18-16 but JCA responded with two kills from Megan Cladis (five kills) to grab a 19-18 lead. Then the hosts used two Perinar kills and another from Emily Hise (three blocks) to move ahead by a 21-19 score.
JCA tied it at 21 and went up 23-22 after a kill by Maddie Naal (four kills) and a long hit. But Minooka responded with a kills by Hise and Papesh surrounding a hitting error to wrap things up in just two sets.
Minooka also received three kills and two blocks from Jessica Karalow, two aces and three digs from Theresa Diamond and 24 assists from Kelly Clucas.
“This definitely was a good win for us,” Diamond said. “Every year we really want this one, even though it’s nonconference. It also gives us a good view of how well we might do in the future. We’ve been working really hard in practices and have been doing conditioning every day and it’s really starting to pay off. We click so easily and we all like each other.”