About three weeks ago, former La Salle-Peru standout Callie Schmidt returned to the Lady Cavalier volleyball program as a volunteer assistant.
Schmidt, who was a three-year starter for L-P in volleyball and the 2007 NewsTribune Female Athlete of the Year, has been working with the Lady Cavs’ defensive players.
“She does a lot of different drills with us,” libero Sarah Shevlin said. “She tells us what we’re doing wrong and she will show us how to do it instead of just telling us so we actually understand and visualize what we’re doing wrong.”
Shevlin said Schmidt has made a “really big difference” with L-P’s back row.
“Callie Schmidt has done an excellent job with the passers,” L-P coach Mark Haberkorn said. “We have her in working with the passers. We try to give them as much work as we can. With Callie as a volunteer assistant, we’re able to give them more individual instruction.”
The Lady Cav defense was strong Tuesday as Shevlin and her back row mates helped L-P to a 25-11, 25-13 victory over Dixon in a Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division match at La Salle-Peru.
“The back row has always been solid,” Haberkorn said. “Night in, night out they just seem to be in the right place at the right time. They just seem to make the plays look so routine. You take a lot of the back row play for granted.”
The back row had plenty of help Tuesday from a strong blocking presence at the net.
Senior Heather Senica led the Lady Cavs with four blocks, while Ellie Senica and Rachel Hunt each blocked three kill attempts.
“I thought we were real strong on the net blocking,” Haberkorn said. “We had a lot of touches at the net. That’s something we think is very important in order to be a top team.”
L-P’s front row also was strong offensively.
Jessica Suarez put down a team-best nine kills. Ellie Senica had four kills for L-P (21-5, 5-2 NIB 12 West) and Brianna Huss added three.
Brittany Zawacki had nine assists, while Katie Olson added four.
“I thought we played really well,” said Shevlin, who had five digs. “We’ve been practicing hard and it all comes together on the court. When it starts with a pass, we get a good set an we get a good kill.”
The Lady Cavs never trailed in the match, which was only tied once.
L-P took the lead for good at 2-1 in the first set on a Dixon error. Heather Senica went on a five-point service run to extend L-P’s lead to 19-9, and Ellie Senica ended the set with a kill on a set by Katy Gealow.
Zawacki rattled off a six-point service run to open the second set.
“It was nice serving by Zawacki,” Haberkorn said. “Zawacki was able to get them on their heels. She’s just a real tough server.”
The Duchesses pulled within one at 7-6, but three consecutive Dixon errors gave L-P a 10-6 lead. The Lady Cavs led by at least three points the rest of the way.
Zawacki put together another six-point run to extend L-P’s lead to 24-13 before the match ended on a Dixon serving error.
Notes: The Lady Cavs hosted “Volley for the Cure” and both teams wore pink. “Parents and people in the community contributed to make this night a success,” Haberkorn said. “It’s for a great cause. It’s great to see the community come together and support this effort.” … The L-P sophomore team won 25-14, 25-10. In freshman action, the L-P Red team won 25-12, 25-18, while the Green squad won 25-15, 25-10.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.