Alex Davis, digging out a return during a 2012 sectional final, played libero during Hinsdale Central’s win over St. Francis in the summer league championship. | File
The day after capturing the Sports Performance summer league, the Hinsdale Central girls volleyball players wore their championship T-shirts to the team’s summer camp for junior high players.
It marked the first time in the seniors’ careers that Hinsdale Central won the title of the 40-team Tuesday night summer league.
“It was good to see the seniors win [summer league] in their senior years,” Hinsdale Central coach Kelly Stapleton, who is permitted to begin preseason practice on Aug. 11, said.
The Devils won all three of their matches on July 29 and captured the one-day tournament with a 25-21, 25-16 victory over St. Francis White in the “A” bracket final. Hinsdale Central also defeated Huntley 25-20, 18-25, 15-11 in the quarterfinals and Geneva 1 25-23, 25-14 in the semifinals at the Great Lakes Center in Aurora.
The Red Devils were missing 6-foot-2 senior outside hitter Lauren Fuller, a Clarendon Hills resident who grew up in Pasadena, California. She verbally committed to San Diego in the offseason and was away at summer camp for the Tereros.
“It was really unexpected since we were without Lauren,” senior libero Alex Davis said. “She is probably our best hitter. We proved we can still win without her.”
Senior outside hitter Regan Serwat was impressed by the Devils’ ability to rally after St. Francis led 9-1 and 18-11 in the first set.
“It’s pretty exciting for our senior year,” Serwat said. “We’re starting off with that [title], so we’re going in with a bang.”
Both Hinsdale Central and St. Francis were missing key players. The Devils also were without 5-11 senior Nikki Hilbrich, a returning starter who was on vacation in Canada.
“It was really competitive,” Stapleton said. “St. Francis had a lot of smaller defensive players. There were a lot of big rallies.”
Hinsdale Central’s kills leader was 6-0 senior middle hitter Claire Cornell. Stapleton listed Davis and junior Meg Irvin, a defensive specialist, among the most improved players.
Stapleton shuffled lineups during the summer league to give playing time to more players. In the final, the third-year coach stuck with a set lineup that included Harvard-bound senior Brooke Istvan as the only setter.
“We’re still all in shock. In summer league, we usually do so bad. But in the last day we were in it for the gold final, thinking, ‘This is awesome,’ ” Istvan said. “In summer league, we usually give everyone playing time. On the last day, we were trying to win.”