ST. CHARLES – St. Charles North’s Allyson Warburton is nearing the end of a short but glorious career.
The senior outside hitter became a go-to player in the North Stars’ program through her hard work and dedication on the court and in the weight room.
St. Charles North coach Lindsey Hawkins said Warburton’s made a dramatic transformation from her freshman season.
“I wish I had a picture of her when she was a freshman,” Hawkins said, laughing. “She was like this little Bambi-like stick. She’s worked so hard on and off the court to get where she is. Even when the pandemic hit, she worked hard getting into the gym every single day to increase her vertical, to make sure her passing was better. I’m so proud of her.”
In a short two-game match with numerous substitutions, Mia Dela Merced had a team-high six kills and two aces. Warburton, Kayla Davern and Marissa Guajardo each had four kills to lead the North Stars to a 25-14, 25-20 win over Bartlett on Wednesday night.
The North Stars (2-2) jumped out to an 18-3 lead in the first game, but fought off a strong push by the Hawks (1-2) in the second game to pull out the two-set win.
Warburton led the way with a big game in limited time. Warburton took an unconventional path to her current spot. After working her way to the varsity program in her junior season, the Wisconsin-Whitewater recruit had a memorable first season on the varsity, helping lead the North Stars to the Class 4A sectional semifinals.
Warburton, who plays for Club Fusion, delivered a few momentum-pounding kills against the Hawks, including two in the North Stars’ final four points of the match. Warburton said she’s worked diligently on her game and conditioning to reach this point of her career.
“I was ready for this season,” Warburton said. “I really put in the work starting in my freshman year, and this past year I really got into weights and it’s really worked out for me.”
Warburton admitted last season’s playoff run makes it even more disappointing that the seniors won’t have an opportunity to compete in the postseason, but that’s put a bigger onus on playing well every match.
“I think we came out strong, and really focused on our serve-receive and our setters really connected with our middles,” Warburton said. “Having no state tournament is a blow to us. We did really well last year winning a regional. It’s a good positive to have a senior year, and exciting to play. It’s fun to get out on the court with my team. I’ve put my trust in my teammates, and they look to me as well to help lead them on the court.”
Hawkins said the North Stars, led by Warburton, are adjusting to playing nonstop volleyball this spring.
“We don’t have a lot of time together because a lot of kids are playing club and high school volleyball,” she said. “They are playing a lot, are tired and we are trying to rest some people and give others some opportunities.”
“(Allyson) is the workhorse of the team, and also the emotional leader of the team. She’s going to set the tone for us.”
Bartlett (1-2) picked up a solid effort from Madison Hankins (four kills) and Bria Lomax (three kills). The Hawks nearly forced a third game before Warburton’s big hitting sparked the North Stars.
“We had some more stats than we had in the first two matches,” Bartlett coach Robert Schwantz said. “We gutted it out. They took it to us tonight, but this is good competition for us. I have a pretty young team, so girls need it. They are a tough team. We played better in the second set.”