Girls volleyball: Lauren Stazinski has come alive during Andrean’s postseason run
BY RYAN HASKELL Post-Tribune correspondent October 25, 2012 11:30PM
Andrean's Lauren Stazinski with teammate Lexy Wright go up for a block against Griffith Wednesday evening at the Andrean Regional. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Class 4A at
Schedule: FW Carroll (27-8) vs. Penn (32-5), 10 a.m. (CST); Lake Central (28-9) vs. Carmel (25-1), 11:30 a.m.; finals, 6 p.m., Saturday.
Skinny: Penn is the two-time defending state champion and the favorite again to come out of this four-team group. The Kingsmen defeated Avon in four games last season to win the state crown. This is the Indians’ first appearance in semistate since 1994.
Next: State championship at Ball State, 4 p.m., Nov. 3.
Class 3A at Plymouth
Schedule: Andrean (28-7) vs. Fairfield (34-1), 10 a.m. (CST); SB St. Joseph’s (30-6) vs. Yorktown (33-3), 11:30 a.m.; finals, 6 p.m., Saturday.
Skinny: Yorktown is the returning state champion out of Class 3A and looks as tough as ever. Andrean was knocked out of last year’s semistate semifinal in three games, so the Niners are pleased to have the opportunity to play Fairfield in the semis. St. Joseph’s is coming in with five more wins than last year. It has a chance to avenge its loss to Yorktown in last year’s semistate championsip.
Next: State championship at Ball State, 2 p.m., Nov. 3.
Class 1A at Caston
Schedule: Marquette (17-19) vs. Cowan (24-10), 10 a.m. (CST); Frontier (29-2) vs. Pioneer (25-9), 11:30 a.m.; finals, 6 p.m., Saturday.
Skinny: The Blazers return to the semistate round for the first time since winning their last state title in 2009. That was also the last of their 13 straight regional championship seasons in a row. They are the only team left in the state tournament with a losing record. Frontier is the only returnee from this round last year, having lost to eventual state champion Wes-Del in the semistate championship last season in three games.
Next: State championship at Ball State, 10 a.m., Nov. 3.
— Ryan Haskell
Updated: November 27, 2012 11:09AM
The postseason has made a monster out of Andrean’s Lauren Stazinski.
And that’s exactly what the 59ers needed to reach their second straight Class 3A semistate.
But Andrean isn’t planning to end the party in the semifinals like last season. The 59ers are hoping to cause a commotion in Plymouth and come home with that coveted semistate championship trophy.
Andrean (28-7) faces Fairfield (34-1) at 10 a.m. (CST) Saturday morning for the chance to play the South Bend St. Joseph’s-Yorktown winner at 6 p.m. in the championship.
And they will need Stazinski to continue to rise to the occasion in these big matches.
“From the minute I met Lauren, I knew she was a special kind of athlete,” 59ers coach Julie Wiejak said. “She was so quiet and so shy and so reserved with all those crazy seniors last year and she handled it well.
“So I’ve been waiting for her to explode this year. And I’m so proud of her because she knew we were in trouble and we needed balls put away against Hanover (Central) and she did it.”
Stazinski recorded a career-high 21 kills in the team’s five-game win over the Wildcats in the Class 3A Knox Sectional championship. She carried the team on her shoulders recording seven straight kills at one point to lift the squad.
“Finally, she gave herself permission to be a go-to (hitter) instead of a piece of the puzzle,” Wiejak said. “Last year, she was a sophomore and had Taylor (Mullen) and Shelby (Stickler) and Ana (Nicksic) and now it was like: ‘I am the puzzle; I am the returner.’ Confidence doesn’t come easy for her and now she’s even walking different. She played wonderful all season but now it’s like ‘Watch me.’”
The junior middle hitter said the team’s postseason life was at stake and she wasn’t about to watch her team go down.
“I was on the bench and it was the fifth game and it was down to it,” said Stazinski, who recorded four kills in the team’s three-game win over Griffith in the regional championship match. “I thought ‘we’re not losing this game’ so I went out there and did everything I could to save our season.”
Stazinski is the team’s lone returnee from last year’s semistate semifinal loss to SB St. Joseph’s (25-23, 25-17, 25-15).
Teammate Kellie Wojciechowski believes Stazinski’s confidence and ability will rub off on everybody else as the team looks to go one step further this postseason.
“You’ll never expect someone to hit a ball so hard because she’s so quiet but she has this strength you wouldn’t expect,” Wojciechowski said. “She is such a valuable player. She’s one of our go-to’s so we can rely on her for the big hit when we need it.”