Tinley Park certainly walked the walk in Monday’s 25-20, 25-15 victory over host Lincoln-Way West, with an across-the-board display of hitting skills.
The talk? Excitement at beating a team from one of the Southland’s toughest conferences (SouthWest Suburban).
“Of course, always,” the Titans’ Lindsay Lannen said. “That’s a big win, especially against a Lincoln-Way school. We really look up to those (schools). Becoming competitive and winning one of these is a great start to our season.”
Molly Brennan (8 kills, 12 digs), Lannen (7 kills), Kasey Brennan (6 kills, 11 digs, 2 blocks) and Kasey Nolan (15 assists) led the way for Tinley, and gave Titans coach Lee Rucinski a win on opening night for the first time in his six seasons.
Jackie Moore (6 kills), Rachel Johnson (4 kills, 4 digs), Katie Davis (11 assists, 4 digs) and Kerrigan Fritz (9 digs) led West.
The Titans return four starters from last year’s 18-17 squad, and they played key roles in Monday’s victory. Freshman Kasey Brennan, though, contributed in a big way in her varsity debut.
“She’s been coming to the summer camps since she was in fifth grade,” Rucinski said. “She probably could have played for me when she was in seventh grade.
“Her ball control is phenomenal. Her intelligence as a volleyball player allows her to play outside. She actually plays libero for her club team. This is the first time she has played outside hitter in organized volleyball. And you can see she has the shot and she is going to move it around the block, and get the job done.”
Brennan did most of her damage during a Set 2 runaway that saw the Titans explode for nine consecutive points, turning a 6-4 deficit into a 13-6 lead.
Her big sister, Molly Brennan, set the tone earlier in the match. Her kill broke a 13-all tie in Set 1, after which she and Lannen had nice runs at the service line. Brennan’s included back-to-back aces.
Nolan, meanwhile, spread the ball around well.
“They clean up a lot of my sets, too,” Nolan said with a smile. “I can set it to anyone and I feel confident with all of them.”
West has three sophomores among its starters and showed it at times, but the Warriors weren’t short on resiliency. Down 24-16 in Set 1, they rallied for four points behind two kills by Johnson and a great defensive play by Michelle Allen. Moore’s two kills keyed a run that allowed the West to lead early in Set 2.
“We made some young mistakes,” first-year Warriors coach Dawn Murphy said. “What we’re doing is we’re going to build on each game as it comes. We can’t get those sophomores experience faster than we can get them out on the court.
“The more they’re on the court the better they’re going to get. We’re looking at the season as it’s not how we start, it’s how we finish. We’re going to continue to build and not repeat mistakes.”