Even without a volleyball around, Lyons Township High School seniors Adriana Vassek and Tia Kostic are pretty inseparable.
Teammates since seventh grade, they often hang out, have many of the same classes and usually drive to school together to thwart the challenging parking situation.
“She drives mostly, but we take turns,” Kostic said.
“I’ve got the parking spot,” said Vassek, smiling.
The co-captains have helped the Lions enjoy quite a ride this season. They’re 30-3 and impressively won their first West Suburban Conference Silver Division title since 2019 with a 6-0 record.
Entering this week’s IHSA Class 4A Regional, which the Lions are hosting, LTHS is ranked No. 3 in Class 4A by MaxPreps and are the No. 2 seed in the Mother McAuley Sectional. McAuley is ranked No. 1 in Class 4A and defeated the Lions 27-25, 25-20 Wednesday. Marist, also ranked in the state’s top five in Class 4A, is the sectional’s No. 3 seed.
“We want to go big. We want to take it all the way to the end and go as far as we can,” Vassek said. “Instead of looking to the seniors, we are the seniors now so it’s just a different mindset to where we have to be reliable for our teammates.”
A fourth-year varsity player, the 5-foot-8 Vassek leads LTHS with 235 serve receptions and is second with 206 kills and 175 digs, as of Oct. 20. In her third varsity season, the 6-1 Kostic has team bests of 213 kills, 49 blocks and 22 service aces.
“I think us two have chemistry and that just comes with connection. I also think [LTHS coach Jill Bober] has had an influence on us,” Kostic said. “This year we have a super strong team. We have a good mental toughness.”
The co-captains have fostered the focused atmosphere. It started preseason and continues through various goal checkpoints along the way.
“They set such a strong foundation for the team. “[Our players] are a very goal-oriented team and [Kostic and Vassek] lend themselves very well to that,” said Bober last week after the Lions beat Downers Grove North for the first time since their last 6-0 Silver run in 2014.
“Going undefeated in this conference is tough, incredibly tough. Again that’s a testament to the girls and their work ethic.”
For their careers, Vassek has 500 kills and 414 digs and Kostic has 452 kills and 131 blocks.
Vassek, especially, is a court presence because she plays the full six rotations. Kostic plays front row and serves.
“Freshman year, [Vassek] was finding her spot, finding her voice, and now she’s the first one to bring the girls together when she feels the energy is lacking or she feels the girls need to re-focus. She really does set the pace of our defense, our offense,” Bober said.
“[Kostic] is so focused and she certainly brings that aggressive but kind energy to the court, to practice.”
The co-captains also have the Lions thriving with defensive specialist Alana Palter the only other regularly starting senior. Full-rotation sophomore setter Abby Markworth (team-high 604 assists, 20 aces) and libero Kiley Mahoney (team-best 214 digs, 22 aces and 188 service points) and junior Kamryn Lee-Caracci (178 kills, 37 blocks) and juniors Grace Brennan (111 kills) and Katie Debs (44 blocks) are significant contributors.
“We did lose a lot of good seniors. I think it’s been really fun to see that we came back this year and came back very strong,” Vassek said.
“We’ve kind of pushed the team to have stronger bonds and I think that also ties into our mental toughness,” Kostic said. “Our progress has gotten so much better and I think as a whole we’re really connecting.”