Lyons Township senior setter Abby Markworth connects often with senior middle hitter Grace Turner this volleyball season.
With another Turner kill early in the Lions’ two-set home victory over Hinsdale Central Sept. 12, Markworth reached 2,000 career assists as a four-year starter.
“It was a tip right to Zone 4. We call it the Turner tip,” said Markworth, who will play at George Washington. “It’s definitely a super cool accomplishment. Obviously, it goes all to my team, too. Everything I’ve done I would not be able to without all of the strong hitters and passers that I’ve had.”
Markworth is part of another strong lineup for the Lions (17-4), who have reached 30 victories the past two seasons. She reached 1,000 career assists during the team’s first quad last season.
“It just shows the competitiveness of our team as well and the quality of our opponents,” said LT coach Jill (Keeve) Bober, a former hitter for the Lions. “Especially for a girl that’s an incredible leader and incredible athlete, to be able to recognize that after four years of playing varsity is pretty amazing.”
Markworth was excited to have super-fan Lyons principal Jennifer Tyrrell on hand for the celebration and received numerous congratulations from former teammates.
“It was super fun to text them. I was like, ‘I couldn’t have done it without you, too,’ " Markworth said.
The career school record is 2,236 by 2012 graduate Alexis Viliunas, a member of the Lions’ 2010 state championship team who played at Illinois.
“That’s a goal of mine, to just keep working hard and seeing what ends up happening,” Markworth said.
Downers Grove North (12-6) enjoyed another key three-set victory Saturday by winning the Kaneland Invitational 24-26, 25-19, 25-16 over the host Knights. The Trojans have won six straight and eight of their last nine. With several returnees and six seniors, they’re just two victories from their 2022 total.
“We have a really good chemistry, better than last year, and it’s really, really fun to play with these girls,” said senior Cailyn Myers, a Belmont Abbey commit and co-captain with senior Lauren Hill. “We bring a ton of energy into the gym always. It’s a very high level, even when we’re losing. We have girls on the bench saying, ‘You’ve got this,’ constantly cheering.”
Standout sophomore Kelley Crowley has 95 kills, followed by Myers (74) and junior Jennifer Buehler (65). Other stats leaders are Hill (199 assists), junior Abby Gross (158 digs) and 6-foot-1 sophomore Nora Benjamin (37 blocks). The Trojans also beat rival Downers Grove South Sept. 7 after losing the first set.
“We’ve made strides (from 2022) in being close. We’re really inviting to the new girls so it just makes team bonding and chemistry so much better,” Buehler said. “(And) because so many of us are returners, we get each other,” Myers said. “That’s not what we’re working on. What we’re working on is the basics or running new plays.”
Wheaton North junior and returning starter Halina Istanbouli began the season honored to be co-captain with senior Delaney Ingbretson. Then Istanbouli received her first all-tournament honors at the Falcons’ annual early-season Blue and Gold Tournament.
“I was very excited because last year I felt like I wasn’t as recognized,” Istanbouli said. “It was really exciting to hear my name.”
The Falcons (9-15) are relying on many new names this season after key graduations. Despite Tuesday’s loss to rival Wheaton Warrenville South, they’ve won four of their last six. The junior-heavy Falcons have six seniors, four sophomores and freshman Emily Rochford.
“We’re getting a lot of new talent,” Istanbouli said. “Toward the beginning of the season, we had all of the pieces. Now we’re putting them all together and have everything click and connect.”
Junior returning starter Olivia Zamis, who has a team-best 25 blocks, saw the most action in 2022. Senior Ellie Danly (16) and junior Katie Koliopoulos (53) are significant leaders in aces and digs, respectively. Offensively balanced, Istanbouli has 34 kills, followed by junior Mackenzie Nettles (33), Zamis (28) and sophomore Mary Kate Whittington (22). It’s also a credit to primary setters Danly (60 assists) and junior Isabella Gibbons (52).
“Since I was an underclassman last year, I didn’t want to get in the way,” Zamis said. “I do feel like I’m getting the ball a little bit more than I was last year and they’re trying to push me a little more, which I definitely love as a middle.”