Jones, Whitney Young Clinch Spot In Varsity Volleyball Championship, Set For Title Rematch

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By Marcus Wilson

The stage is set for this year’s Chicago Public League Varsity Girls Volleyball Championship with the Jones Eagles set to take on the Whitney Young Dolphins in what will be a rematch of last season’s final. 

The first of two semi finals hosted at Little Village High School  saw top seed Jones (20-14) play the Payton Grizzlies (20-14) in a thrilling three set match. 

In the first set, the Eagles found trouble early, falling behind 17-12. However, as senior Erin Wheeler explained, this Jones team is tested and has learned to thrive in difficult circumstances. 

“We play so cohesively,” Wheeler said. “Even when we’re down, no one points fingers. We’re conditioned to play together which is really helpful in those tough moments.” 

Jones battled back to win that first set 25-23, and carried that momentum into the second set, building a 10-3 advantage. In that moment, it was Payton who then managed to show resolve and rally, going on a massive 14-4 scoring run which saw them build a lead they would not relinquish. 

Winning that second set 25-17 was a major boost of confidence for Payton coach Alyssa Butler and her team. She felt the true character and toughness of her girls came to life during that stretch.

“To be down 7 points in the second set and come back and win was huge for us,” Butler explained. “It’s a testament to who we are and the fight [our team] has. We just had a few too many errors in the other sets.” 

In the end, Jones won the final set 25-19, clinching their second consecutive city championship appearance.

Two-time defending city champion Whitney Young (12-10) faced Taft (14-15) in the other semifinal. 

The Dolphins were sharp early, rolling to a 25-9 first set victory, a start head coach Michael Quevedo loved seeing from his team. 

“We really wanted to make a statement to set the standard for [tomorrow’s championship],” he said. “We believe that’s not something you can turn on and off, and we’ve been on for the last three weeks, so we’re looking to finish off our season on that high.” 

Young found stronger opposition from Taft in the second set, but according to sophomore Jordyn McCoy they remained confident throughout that 25-20 victory. 

“We always focus on mentality,” she said. “In practice, games, and even tryouts the mental game is really important. We try to brush off our minor mistakes and enter the next point ready to put the game away.” 

The city championship will be the third time Jones and Young have met this season, with the Eagles already winning both prior matchups in three sets. Jones’ Erin Wheeler hopes they can complete a trifecta against the familiar foe. 

“We consider Whitney Young our rival,” she said. “This season is the first time we’ve beaten them in a long time. We want to go out and prove to them we can beat them three times this year.” 

The Dolphins are also working on a trifecta of their own in what could be their third straight city title. Despite their earlier losses, Coach Quevedo remains hopeful, feeling he will bring a different team into this next matchup. 

“We are hungry,” Quevedo stated. “The last two times we played them we were almost in mourning because we lost two players to season ending ACL injuries. It really took us a while to get over that, me included. Now that we’re full force and know who we are, we’re excited to show Jones our new 2.0 volleyball.” 

While Young has a chance to cement a dynasty, Jones is looking to capture their first city title since 2017, an accomplishment head coach Howard Hu wants his team to experience. 

“I’d be so happy for our girls,” he said. “They’ve worked hard all season and have been nothing but dedicated. I want this for them more than myself.” 

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