When it comes to girls volleyball in the Chicago Public League, Whitney Young has had quite the stranglehold of the varsity level. Coming into the title game against Jones, the Dolphins had won nine city titles since the 2010 season, including multiple titles over Jones in the process.
So when the two teams met in the city championship game last Thursday at Little Village, the Eagles were hoping to knock the Dolphins from atop the league’s hierarchy and dethrone Young, which had won the last three city titles.
Unfortunately for Jones, that would not end up happening as the Dolphins cruised to an easy 25-19, 25-10 to win its 10th title since 2010.
“The girls are really dedicated to their legacy and showing that their school is much more than a (graduating) class, but that’s it’s a whole school and incoming talent that builds up the program,” Young coach Michael Quevedo said. “We’ve had a revolving door of coaches, but the girls continue to find a way to win, so therefore their resilience and their dedication to the sport, in and out of the season, helps propel them to the level they’re at.”
With every city title, it’d be easy to think that the team feels more pressure every year, but it seems as if Young thrives under that pressure and welcomes all challengers.
“It’s an amazing experience to be able to win so many championships every year,” Young’s Ava Schabes said. “I think there is pressure every year, but I know we can do it. I’m very confident in our team and overall, we have a strong program.”
“I had butterflies coming into the match, because you never know what might happen,” Young’s Claudia Ouimet said. “Anyone can win, anyone can grab momentum, but I had confidence in my teammates and knew our teammates would pull through.”
The game of volleyball is all about runs and Young got out to one very quickly in the title match.
A 6-0 start then turned into a 16-6 lead and before the Eagles knew it, it was too late to mount a comeback. They’d get it to within 22-18 but an injury to one of their players stopped the momentum and allowed the Dolphins to rattle off three of the next four points to take the first set.
Ouimet, who is in her first year on the varsity squad, had five kills and an ace in the set.
The second set, however, looked like it would be a barnburner as the two teams pretty much traded point-for-point for the first eight points. It was a hitting error by the Eagles that changed the tide though, as it broke the 4-4 tie, giving the Dolphins a 5-4 lead, one it wouldn’t relinquish.
First, Young libero Sydni Poston, who happened to be a transfer from Jones, stepped to the service line and helped extend the lead to 8-5.
Then two points later, Ouimet stepped to the service line and helped put the game away by serving up five aces, including four in a row, giving the Dolphins an 18-6 lead after a service error.
“We had consistent serving, which is always helpful and our fans were going crazy, so we were able to feed off of that,” she said. “We just had fun and the points kept coming.”
The Dolphins’ intensity was so much during the second set that of the 25 points scored, only six were scored on kills.
Ouimet finished with six kills and six aces in the win, while Nyla Williams added four kills for the victors.
“I think we had a lot of energy and momentum throughout the game and we just kept it up for both sets,” Schabes said. “We didn’t let down.”
“We really focused on what we know how to do best and that’s clean, aggressive volleyball,” the Young coach said.