Comets debut strong over ESJ

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 7, 2009



After two district championship seasons under then-coach Brandy Ryan, the St. Charles volleyball team entered this season determined to keep the momentum going and get off to a positive start under new coach Kelly Cupit.

Thursday saw the Comets do just that.

St. Charles earned its first victory under Cupit, and of the season, netting a 25-10, 25-13, 25-21 victory at home over visiting East St. John.

“These girls really make me proud,” said Cupit, who returns to SCC to coach after graduating from the school in 2003. “I felt like everyone went out there and had fun today, and we worked on some areas that we needed improvement. But overall, I’m ecstatic (with the win).”

The Wildcats made a late push in the third game, threatening to push the match to a fourth contest. But after a spike by SCC’s Kadie Levatino sailed out of bounds and made it 23-21, drawing ESJ within two, St. Charles quickly put the game and the match away, scoring the 24th point on a lift by ESJ, and the 25th on a spike by Meg Gustafson.

“(The win) is a good motivator for us to keep working,” said Gustafson, who led the Comets in kills. “We’re really stressing team spirit this year. We want the excitement to be back where it’s been in years past. I think getting off to a good start is huge for us.”

East St. John, meanwhile, hopes to build off of the late rally by its young team. The Wildcats return no starters from a year ago, and are debuting under new coach Vivian Aubert, who takes over for Monica Hebert — Hebert remains on the staff in an assistant role.

Another of Aubert’s assistants, Kierre Joseph, says that East St. John is still trying to build its foundation for this season.

“It’s just a learning process. We experience it and try to get better,” she said. “We’re looking for effort and teamwork. We’re looking for leadership. And once we see those things come together, we can start to build some confidence.”

The Comets (1-0) scored the first four points in the opening game, including an ace by Peyton Millet. ESJ rattled off three straight points of its own, and the teams went back and forth in the early stages.

But with the Comets leading 10-6, St. Charles charged ahead to wrest away control. A Gustafson kill kick started an 8-1 scoring run that made it 18-7. Two return errors by the Comets led to consecutive ESJ points, but St. Charles rattled off seven of the next eight points, including a game-sealing hit by Heather Orillion, who dropped in a soft shot between defenders.

Another Comets run broke the second game open in similar fashion. With SCC leading 8-5, Gustafson again kickstarted a surge with a kill, and her ace and a kill by Jaymie Remondet capped a 10-3 run that made it 19-8.

A tip by Brionka Williams and a kill by Terynek Grover gave ESJ some life, but the Comets wouldn’t let the Wildcats build momentum, and would finish the game via a Courtney Western tip.

The third game went much differently from the previous two, as the ESJ players seemed to get their legs under them. Back to back aces early on by Levatino gave SCC a lead it would never relinquish, but the Comets could never fully shake the Wildcats.

Dynekia Sanders scored on a kill, then an ace for ESJ to pull the Wildcats within four late, 21-17. With the score 23-19, ESJ scored two consecutive points before SCC did the same to close the match out.

Cupit elected not to call time out as ESJ pulled close, noting that she trusted her seniors to pull the team through.

“I’ll step in certainly if I have to,” she said. “But our seniors know what has to be done. And they definitely know I hate playing more than we have to.

“I think we kind of relaxed out there (in the third game), and we’ll learn from it. If I’m still nervous, they should be nervous.”

Gustafson said that aside from the win, she felt the Comets got much accomplished.

“We’ve been focusing on our passing and consistently hitting our spots in practice all week,” she said. “I felt like we did a good job of it. We’ve been working really hard, and this was the result.”