The girls volleyball team at Homewood-Flossmoor High School is moving into IHSA playoffs Oct. 28 with an outstanding 24-5 record.
Last year, the team total was 23-12, so coach Tony Kruse sees his team “ahead of the pace.” The team was heavy with juniors last year. This year those players are seniors with that past season’s experience.
“We’re having a really good season,” Kruse said. “This is the best team we’ve had in my 15 years (at H-F), from top to bottom. The problem is we just play in such a tough regional (division). There’s just a lot of good teams, but I like our chances. I think our team is playing really well.”
To the coach’s way of thinking, his players are showing confidence. And well they should. At one point in the season they won 17 games in a row, and won two major tournaments.
To win first place at the Manteno Volleyball Tournament, the team played four teams. The first three teams they beat in two 21-point games to advance. The fourth team they took two of three games. Team members Journey Barsh, Lia Sidberry and Allison Faoro were named to the all-tournament team.
At the St. Viator Tournament, H-F beat five teams, two games each, to win the title.
Kruse said the team is “really a pleasure to coach. They come in the gym and work hard. “
The team is seniors Journey Barsh, Miara Bolden, Jaylyn Clark, Rorie Dougherty, Allison Faoro, Skylar Hayes, Lia Sidberry; juniors Aisha Al-Amin, Kailey Burns, Tacy Graham, Queen Patterson, Jazz Marks and Tanika Parks and sophomore Jasmine Heyward. Each player has a specific position on the court.
Kruse and Assistant Coach Mark Ciesielski put the players through practice at least five days a week, and sometimes six days. They play matches two or three days a week.
That can mean 36 games in a short period of time, and Kruse said he and Ciesielski know the players need to give their bodies rest to avoid strains. But volleyball is their thing and for many of them, volleyball is a 12-month sport. They play with volleyball clubs when they’re not playing for H-F.
Kruse said none of the players are over 6 feet tall, “but people think we’re real tall when we come into the gym. Our girls are very athletic and strong.”
Lia Sidberry has signed to play for Emory University, and several other players have talked with scouts from colleges and universities.
H-F will have a great pipeline for next year. Kruse said he has a junior varsity team that he’ll draft from when he puts the 2020 team together. He likes the set-up because as juniors these players are getting a year’s competitive experience that they can bring to a varsity team. H-F also has two freshmen teams.