Motivated Esperanza grabs playoff berth


VILLA PARK - Needing a victory to clinch a spot in the CIF-SS girls volleyball playoffs, a motivated Esperanza team defeated Villa Park in four sets, 25-18, 14-25, 25-10, 25-16, Thursday night.

“It’s so exciting getting in this way,” senior libero Kristen Santos said. “We came ready to play and it showed.”

After Villa Park hung tough in the first set and took the second, Esperanza (10-13, 6-6)  came out with energy in the third game and took over the match.

Esperanza allowed Villa Park to score back-to-back points just once, and senior setter Stephanie Aviles put up three of her five blocks in the third set.

Before the fourth set began, Santos gathered her teammates and gave them a motivational speech. Esperanza fed off her energy as it took an early lead, 5-1, and never let up.

Esperanza outside hitter Ashley Pettibone led the team in kills with 11, and outside hitter Gabby Nguyn had 10.

Before the match, Villa Park honored its six seniors - Rachel Sosnowksi, Christina Scavuzzo, Kady Amsbary, Melanie Luallen, Jordan Carpenter and Marisa Doran - and the three Esperanza seniors - Blake Lathrop, Santos and Aviles.

“We’re going out with a bang and bringing our team with us,” said Lathrop. “But it is bittersweet.”

The CIF-SS playoff pairings will be released Saturday afternoon. Esperanza will likely play a first-round match next Tuesday.

“If we limit our mistakes and, what we call ‘brain farts,’ we can go far,” Aviles said.

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