Winnetka, Sports

New Trier volleyball christens new gym with win on opening night

Welcome, with a capital “W.”

Opening night in New Trier High School’s new gym began and ended in victory thanks to Trevians girls volleyball, which picked up varsity and junior-varsity wins against Libertyville Monday, Aug. 21, in Winnetka.

In the varsity contest, New Trier downed the visitors in straight sets, 25-17, 25-17, in front of a packed student section that boosted the home team right from the get-go.

“We are so blessed being able to play in this gym. The energy, it’s insane,” Trevs senior Ana Vetter said. “The facilities are great. The whole team is excited to play here. It’s awesome. I’m glad everyone came out, all my friends and classmates. It means a lot for everyone to come out and support the volleyball team.”

New Trier’s Ana Vetter (11) tips past the Libertyville block in her team’s victory.

Vetter — a powerful, left-handed outside and right-side hitter — is one of several holdovers from a young New Trier unit that advanced to the sectional championship match last season. Just two seniors graduated off the Trevians 2022 roster.

In the opener, Vetter was joined by junior outsides Kit Kat McGregor and Emma McHatten, senior setter Alex Belak, senior middle Alison Smith, sophomore middle Calia Cremascoli, and junior libero Lauren Cortina.

McHatten, who missed much of her third varsity season with an injury, led New Trier on Monday with 6 kills, while Vetter and McGregor closely followed with 5 apiece. Smith added a pair of kills and 3 aces.

Propelled by new-gym energy, the Trevians jumped all over the visiting Wildcats, taking a 6-0 lead in the first set with Belak behind the service line. Libertyville never got closer than four points the rest of the way, as New Trier picked up the 25-17 win.

The second set was similar, as the Trevs nabbed leads of 7-2 and 12-4 to cruise to a season-opening match victory.

Trevians sophomore Katie Wood (left) spars at the net with the Wildcats Jaimie Marquardt.

“I think just our energy, passing to attack … was great,” Vetter said about the keys to Monday’s win. “The crowd helped us a lot. This team has worked so hard. Everything we’ve been doing in practice every day contributed to this win. It just feels really good.”

New Trier head coach Hannah Hsieh said leading up to the opener, she didn’t want her team focusing on the new gym — an 18-month construction effort that displaced the volleyball team and other programs during the 2022-’23 school year.

Instead, Hsieh and company began to drive home the two words she hopes define their 2023 campaign — competitive and supportive.

“So we want to play at the highest level and still be good teammates and push each other to do better,” she said. “Supportive meaning not just saying good job, but pushing each other to excel. And I thought the girls did a great job with that (Monday). Those two things can be tough to be at the same time.”

Vetter, Smith, McHatten and Macgregor give New Trier a powerful and versatile offensive attack. Setters Belak and fellow senior Jenny Perkins, both of whom saw time at the position last season, are charged with keeping them in rhythm.

Senior setter Alex Belak serves during New Trier’s opening-night win.

At the other middle spot, opposite Smith, the Trevians will work in underclassmen Cremascoli and Katie Wood, both sophomores who shared time on Monday, and Sonja Keneally, a junior. Right side Meghan Souers also contributed to Monday’s victory.

“I think we’ll just get better and better,” Hsieh said of her squad. “We’ve been very scrappy in practice so far. I like to see that. We can keep working on our defense. I think we’re a strong serving team and I think we’ll be a strong passing team. … Our middles are on the young side, so they’ll continue to get better. Our motto is better every day.

“All of them are committed to getting better. There’s no day where they’re not working hard. We have great senior leadership; I think that helps. I’m really proud of the girls.”

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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