CARY – During the offseason, Cary-Grove volleyball coach Patty Langanis wondered if the Trojans would find that go-to hitter who could pick up the team in big moments.
For Trojans junior outside hitter Abby Schebel, this season represented an opportunity to take on a greater role and move past the previous two years she spent on varsity, which weren’t always easy as she constantly was pushed by Langanis. So it was fitting Schebel shined Tuesday against rival Prairie Ridge when the Trojans needed a go-to hitter.
Having battled back and forth with each team winning a game 27-25, the decisive Game 3 didn’t start well for the Trojans. The Wolves quickly took a 7-2 lead and carried momentum coming off a comeback win in Game 2. C-G chipped away at their lead, and then it became the Schebel show. Schebel’s kill tied the score at 9 to start a dominating stretch. Schebel scored eight of the Trojans’ next 12 points – all off kills – to give them a 20-11 lead.
Schebel gave C-G the boost it needed, finishing with a match- and career-high 17 kills to lead the Trojans to a 27-25, 25-27, 25-21 win against the Wolves.
“I saw it in her eyes; I saw it in her play,” Langanis said of Schebel, who also had five aces. “She wanted that ball in crunch time. She delivered in crunch time and you can’t coach that.”
After dropping the winnable Game 2, which C-G watched slip away on Wolves middle blocker Ali Witt’s clinching kill, Langanis preached going back to the basics. Although C-G (7-1, 2-0 Fox Valley Conference Valley) quickly fell behind in the third game against an amped Prairie Ridge (0-4, 0-2) team, the Trojans never lost their composure.
“I have an amazing team to back me up,” Schebel said. “Never give up. I just try my best. I’m so proud of my entire team. We really tried our best.”
Every day in practice the Trojans work to get a touch on every ball, Seymour said, and that mentality carried over into their match against the Wolves. C-G won a lot of battles at the net, finishing off 50-50 balls for key points. The Trojans’ also effectively used tip shots, particularly Seymour, who finished with four kills, to keep Prairie Ridge’s defense off-balance. Sophomore Erin Olson added seven kills while Kayli Trausch and Sarah Graham recorded five kills apiece to complement Schebel.
“She was always there,” senior setter Meghan Seymour said of Schebel. “She was always ready. She was up. She’s always a player we can count on. When the game gets tight like that, we all know she’ll put the ball down.”
The loss sends Prairie Ridge back to the drawing board in trying to overcome the mistakes that have cost it in each match this season. The Wolves had a chance to take Game 1, holding five game points, but service errors and a pair of C-G aces – two of 15 the Trojans had in the match – thwarted Prairie Ridge. Wolves coach Stefanie Otto was encouraged by how her team started Game 3, but the mental focus again was lacking and cost the Wolves. Otto said it will remain an area of emphasis.
“It’ll come with time, I hope,” Otto said. “If not, we’re going to have a lot of rough bumps along the way. If they decide to do it, they’ll have a lot of wins along the way. So it’s wherever they decide to go mentally right now.”