The Fenwick High School girls volleyball team is off to a 4-1 start this season.
The Friars’ 25-23, 25-12 win against visiting Oak Park and River Forest on Sept. 9 likely meant the most to the players, especially senior leaders like Annie Ryan, Annie Trucco and Kathleen Carpenter.
“When we were on the varsity as sophomores, we kind of did the math and figured out that we would play OPRF at home our senior year,” said Trucco, a St. Luke graduate from River Forest. “It feels good to finally beat them. It’s fun because we know a lot of the girls on their team.
“I’m really excited about the season. We have so much depth and experience. If there’s a year for us to really do well, I think this is the one.”
In the opening set against OPRF, Fenwick took command early with effective serving and excellent defense to build a 23-13 lead. The Huskies responded by reeling off 10 of 11 points to pull to 24-23. Senior middle blocker Kerry Best notched the winning point on a spike for the Friars.
Fenwick avoided similar suspense in the second set, outscoring OPRF by 13 points.
Best had team-highs of nine kills and eight blocks. Carpenter (7 kills, 4 blocks) and Ryan (7 kills) played well for the victors.
Along with Ryan, Trucco and Carpenter and libero Alysia Beirne, Fenwick has five other seniors who helped the team advance to a regional final last season. Sophomore right side/setter Margaret Planek, junior setter Mary Marzo and freshman left outside hitter McKenzie Moorman are other key contributors.
“Our experience is our strength,” O’Laughlin said. “We can attack at many points on the net and have the size to be a blocking threat. Our goal is to be playing our best volleyball at the end of the [regular] season and into the IHSA state tournament.”
Despite the disappointing loss to their crosstown rivals, OPRF (5-3) is optimistic its best volleyball is yet to come.
Senior libero Allie Nelson and senior right side Ariel Hamby, who have verbally committed to Kansas and Eastern Michigan, respectively, lead the Huskies.
Senior outside hitter Lili Walsh and junior setter Jordan Mrkvicka are other top players, while Bella Perez, Abby Zarosl and Morgan Watson have played well this season. Sophomore Mireya Garcia and freshman Maeve Nelson (Allie’s younger sister) are a pair of very promising outside hitters.
“We’re going to keep working hard to improve,” Hamby said. “I think the Fenwick game showed that we can work on our mental toughness. At the start of the first game, we struggled with our serve receive, which put us in a big hole.
“Every year is different with new players and new positions. I still think we have the potential to be great.”