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Girls’ volleyball bumps, sets and spikes its way to state

Senior+Catherine+Hickey+gets+ready+to+serve+in+the+State+semifinal+game%0APhoto+by+Emily+Bremner+
Senior Catherine Hickey gets ready to serve in the State semifinal game
Photo by Emily Bremner

Senior Catherine Hickey gets ready to serve in the State semifinal game Photo by Emily Bremner

Senior Catherine Hickey gets ready to serve in the State semifinal game Photo by Emily Bremner

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Deafening cheers rung throughout the gymnasium. Players, coaches, students, fans and of course Mr. Hickey—by far the loudest person there—screamed their lungs out as the girls volleyball team claimed their first sectional title in school history. However, it would not stop there.

In a journey that started in Sycamore and ended at Illinois State University, the 2017 girls’ volleyball team would go on to win the super sectional title and ultimately claim 4th place at state, forever etching their legacy into the Saint Viator girls’ volleyball program. But how did they accomplish such a feat? Some would say it was the cornrows they wore each game during playoffs. Others would attribute it to pregame meals at Subway or post-game bus jams. In spite of these superstitious rituals, their 29 and 13 season and better than usual conference record shows that their success comes not only from tradition.

With two All Conference players, Catherine Hickey and Michaela Mueller, this team was special. Their goal from day 1, as set by their head coach Charlie Curtin and assistant coach Jimmy Neill, was to go down to state.

According to Catherine Hickey, one of the team captains, it was hard work and effort, both in games and in practice, that enabled them to reach such high levels of success despite high pressure situations and expectations.

Assistant coach and alum of the program herself Kate Zydlo also commented on how proud she was of the way the girls overcame the stifling competition and achieved something the program had never done before.

“Once playoffs started and we dominated in our regional match, I knew that we really were a front runner to make it all the way to state,” said Coach Zydlo. “Even though each match after that became more challenging, the girls always found a way to never give up and to put in the extra effort that made the difference. It allowed them to compete at the highest level they can and achieve something that the program has never done before.”

With multiple players making key plays—digs, kills, aces, blocks—they proved true the colloquial saying that practice makes perfect.

One of these players was none other than senior Annie Sweeney, who came in to pinch serve on several occasions with the game on the line—an extremely high pressure situation in volleyball, and delivered on several key occasions. It was not only her that came in clutch but the entire team.

“As a former alum of the program myself I couldn’t be more proud, and I can’t help but brag about them because they’re such amazing players on the court and such phenomenal young women off the court,” said Coach Zydlo. “I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to have worked with them as much as I have and I really wish them the best of luck in whatever they do.”

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Girls’ volleyball bumps, sets and spikes its way to state