[Updated 7:30 a.m.] The seventh grade girls volleyball team at James Hart School in Homewood is ready to battle for the first place title in the Illinois Elementary School Association state playoffs. Right now, the team is one of the top eight teams in the state. They will compete Friday, March 8, in Normal, Ill., in a best-of-three elimination series against Urbana Middle School.
Right now, the team is one of the top eight teams in the state. They will compete Friday, March 8, in Normal, Ill., in a best-of-three elimination series against Urbana Middle School. The winner will be one of the top four teams in the state and go on to the finals on Saturday.
To get this far, the 12-girl team had a record of 16-3 this season. They play in a conference made up of schools from Flossmoor, Glenwood, Chicago Heights, Steger, Crete and Matteson. Hart played most of the teams twice. In addition, they played Hickory Creek and Mokena schools in another conference.
Hart volleyball coach Renee Rycraft said 40 girls tried out for the team in late November. Team members are Addison Collins, Ava Loudon, Ruby Moxley, Violet Quirke, Julixa Reyes, Mia Starkenburg, Emma Steiner, Madyson Stine, Rebecca Urbaniak, Madison Vitolka, Amy Ward and Isabella Woodward.
The Hart team defeated Steger Columbia 25-18 in the final game to gain the regional title. They won two of the three games in the competition.
“I felt confident when I was making the serves and we were working together. There was a problem when we just stopped talking at one point,” said Addision, “and the score went down, but then it went back up.”
“That’s one of the qualities to this team. This team plays with such heart,” their coach said. “We’ve been down a number of times and climbed back up for the win.”
Violet, a middle back, finds the team has become a family. “We work as a team and create friendships that we wouldn’t have in regular school because you might not have classes with them,” she said.
Ava Loudon is one of the girls who spikes the ball in the front line. “The main goal is to hit it right down, so you have to have control of it a lot,” she explained.
Several girls have rotated through positions to find a spot that works best for them.
Madison Vitolka was inadvertently left out of the team roster when this story was first published. The Chronicle apologizes for the oversight.