WOODSTOCK – There was just something about the mood before Monday’s match against Chicago Christian that bothered Frankie Taylor.
The Marian Central outside hitter could sense it from the time she walked on the court to face the Knights, a perennial contender in the Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division. These are precisely the kind of matches that require a keyed-in, methodical approach.
Monday, the Hurricanes just didn’t have that. Taylor and her teammates showed flashes of the team they all believe they can be, but slow starts forced Marian to play from behind against a Knights team that respected its lead too much to let it go.
Despite some last-ditch heroics, Chicago Christian beat Marian, 25-19, 25-19, in a relatively clean match that lacked consistent energy.
“We were just awkward,” said Taylor, who led Marian with six kills. “We started too slow, and when you do that it’s just so hard to catch up. We need high intensity for the entire match.”
The match marked the beginning of a grueling week for Marian (3-2 overall, 1-1 SCC Blue). St. Francis, ranked No. 9 in the nation according to prepvolleyball.com, looms on Wednesday and the Hurricanes travel to Mother McAuley this weekend, where they will face some of the best talent in the region in the Asics Preview.
Fortunately for Marian, it may be just a matter of playing with more fire. Marian served well and played solid defensively. Setter Alex Kaufmann (17 assists) spread the ball to even the attack, especially when Taylor was facing a double block from 6-foot-1 Chicago Christian standouts Anna Kamp and Samantha Kubik in both games.
Smart decisions didn’t translate to runs, though. Down early in Game 1, the Hurricanes cut it to two, 21-19, on a kill from Taylor, but the Knights closed out the game on four straight Marian errors.
Two Taylor kills put the Hurricanes ahead, 5-4, in Game 2, but the Knights held Marian there. Outside hitter Jessica Krygsheld tied the game on a kill, and a Marian hitting error gave Chicago Christian the lead, 6-5. The Knights (9-1, 2-0) jumped ahead 15-8 behind four service points from Kubik.
“We were playing sideout volleyball, and if you’re down, you’re never going to get the lead back,” Marian coach Laura Watling said. “It was frustrating. Chicago Christian is a good team and they pushed hard, and we just did not respond as well as we should have.”
The Hurricanes outscored the Knights, 6-2, to creep within four, 21-17, thanks to kills from Taylor and middle hitter Hannah Davis. A kill from Sarah Schaefer kept the Knights from getting match point, but Kamp terminated to end the match.
“We have put a lot of pressure on focusing this year,” Kaufmann said. “It really was awkward the way we started. We were playing fine but we just didn’t have enough energy. That’s what hurt us in the long run.”