In the Lyons Township High School girls volleyball regular-season finale Saturday, senior Anabelle Montgomery had her biggest offensive match.
Montgomery contributed 14 kills to the Lions’ 25-23, 15-25, 25-18 victory over Normal West after a previous-best 11 against Downers Grove North Oct. 17. The Lions (28-7) also beat Buffalo Grove Saturday 25-16, 25-21.
“I was shocked, too. When I checked in the huddle, I didn’t know I had 14 kills,” said Montgomery, who previously had 10 kills twice, including once as a junior.
“It was a pretty good week. I’ll just say that. It was pretty fun.”
The Lions’ 12 seniors are hoping to go out on a good note as the No. 3 seed in the Class 4A Hinsdale Central Sectional behind Oak Park and River Forest (28-6) and Willowbrook (34-1).
They began Riverside-Brookfield Regional play Tuesday against No. 14 Kennedy with hopes to making the finals at 6 p.m. Thursday against No. 6 Downers Grove North (21-14) or No. 10 RBHS (19-14).
The sectional semifinals are at 7 p.m. Monday most likely against Willowbrook. The sectional final is at 6 p.m. Nov. 1.
On Oct. 17, the Lions lost to Downers North 25-20, 22-25, 25-18 on Senior Night and in their West Suburban Conference Silver finale. The Lions, Trojans and Hinsdale Central shared third in the Silver at 3-3.
LTHS then lost to defending 4A state champion Mother McAuley 25-17, 25-20 Oct. 18.
“On Senior Night, it probably took about 20 minutes to get us all out there and do the whole ceremony,” Montgomery said. “Honestly, McAuley was a good recovery game for us. We talked in the locker room how we have to switch our mentality going into playoffs. In regionals and sectionals, we don’t have Marist and McAuley (this year) so we know we have a better shot of going far. We have to have the mentality we have nothing to lose and to play to have fun. Why else is there to play?”
LTHS cross country
Anna Bylsma is among four LTHS girls cross country seniors who ran at the 2022 Class 3A state meet.
After the Lions’ top two state finishers graduated, the veterans now are setting the tone for another state run.
Bylsma led a powerful pack Saturday that carried the Lions to second (44 points) at the LT Regional Oct. 21 and a berth to the Hinsdale Central Sectional Saturday.
“I think we have more confidence (this season) because we know how to do it and we know our team is really close with the pack,” Bylsma said.
With Bylsma (6th, 19:34.23 for 3.1 miles), seniors Lauren Bohringer (7th, 19:39.39) and Julianne Melby (8th, 19:43.85), sophomore Jenna Lally (11th, 19:48.12) and seniors Madison Findley (12th, 19:48.21), Shannon Cranny (18th, 19:59.08) and Kristina Findley (19th, 20:23.55), the Lions had a 1-5 split of just 14 seconds.
“That was the team goal today going in and I think we did a really good job,” Bylsma said.
The LTHS boys finished third (72 points) and also advanced.
At sectionals, the top seven teams and top 10 individuals not among those teams advance to state. Both LTHS teams were ranked among the top 15 in the final 3A regular-season polls by both ILXCTF and ILMileSplit.
Things should only get better for the girls as Cranny continues to progress. This was her third race back from a pre-season injury.
“We really like where we’re at,” LTHS coach Eric Simon said. “We talked a lot (this season) about the mental side of what we’re trying to do, a lot of these girls taking a big step up from where they were last year, and they’ve done that.”
Bylsma improved significantly from 32nd at 2022 regionals. Melby, Cranny and Kristina Findley also competed at state last year.
Saturday marked their final home meet.
“A little bit (sad), the last race at LT. And it was a good one,” Bylsma said.
In the boys race, juniors Ben Wuggazer (10th, 16:22.95) and Tate Pavelka (11th, 16:27.41) and John O’Halloran (13th, 16:34.57), senior Maksym Waschuk (18th, 16:47.22) and junior Charles Ciesla (20th, 16:50.23) were the Lions’ top five finishers, followed by senior Brendan Whalen (24th, 16:56.14) and sophomore Patrick Collins (35th, 17:25.94).
“That’s usually my goal, to try to close the gap as much as I can with Ben,” Pavelka said. “Definitely our biggest improvement is just that No. 4 to 7 (team finishers). We’re looking really consistent. A lot of us can replace each other.”
The Lions competed without their No. 1-2 runners, senior all-staters Cillian Henning and Nick Strayer. They’re expected to return for sectionals.
“I think definitely (their) absence made a significant difference but it was good for us to adapt and I think a lot of us made really good moves without them,” Pavelka said.