McKenna Kelsay didn’t tell her Batavia team prior to facing St. Francis on Wednesday that it had never beaten the Spartans before.
After the Bulldogs pulled off the 27-25, 13-25, 25-23 victory, suffice to say, there was a bit of excitement from the team.
“So that was kind of a surprise [to them that it hadn’t happened] after we had won,” said Kelsay, who herself starred in high school at St. Francis. “They were so pumped up, so excited. I thought we played really well. Both teams played really well. The third set was a battle back-and-forth; it’s always fun. I told the kids: ‘This is why we play. We play to be in these matches with great teams back-and-forth.’”
“It was really [going to come down to] whoever was going to get those final points. Because it was 23-21, 23-22…any match like that is so exciting and so fun. For it to be our first win against, obviously, a great historical program in St. Francis was really, really exciting.”
Madelyn Hooper had 11 kills to pace the Bulldogs (15-13), but was nicely supplemented by Grace Regnier (nine kills), Kyra Taylor (eight kills, seven digs, one ace) and Amanda Otten (16 assists, five kills).
Bulldogs senior Alexis Abel might not see the court a ton during a given match, but is “always working hard; always looking to get better.”
Abel is also heavily involved in social clubs around school and is a member of four different honor societies.
“…She’s a presence. Someone who is always smiling,” Kelsay said. “Even if she’s not on the court, she always cheering for everybody. In practice, she’s making us better by working hard. She’s asking questions…I think in terms of her desire to get better and desire to help the team is huge.”
Taylor Swanson making presence felt on St. Charles East
St. Charles East senior Taylor Swanson, besides being a captain this season and a varsity member for three years, is making her presence felt from the very start of a volley.
“We’ve been down in several games early in the season and she served us right into wins,” St. Charles East coach Jennie Kull said. “She’s that kid that the stats don’t really show how well she’s doing.”
Swanson has the second-highest ace percentage (14.3) and a 93.4 serve percentage.
“Every time I go back to serve, I just think about how important it is to get your serve in and that if you go on a long run, it can really help the team out a lot,” Swanson said.
Being voted a captain at the start of the season “means a lot to be seen as the leader.”
“Especially after being on varsity for so long,” Swanson said, “I really wanted to take this year and just show everyone what it means to be on varsity, what it means to win and how far we could potentially get.”
“She’s just a sweet person. She’s just gives to everybody, always worried about others,” Kull continued. “She’s just that kid. Never selfish [and] always wanting to make things better.
To Swanson, the Saints (13-14) “are a really talented team this year; we just have to put it all together for postseason.”
“We hit a little rough patch in the middle of our season, but I think we’re coming out of it,” Swanson said. “We’re all excited to see how far we can make it.”