In Division-I recruits Camryn Hannah and Maddie Arundel, Marist junior setter Nikki Jones has a powerful one-two punch to use for the RedHawks offense.
Her third option ain’t bad, either.
And when senior outside Avery Jedry gets her chance, she’s doesn’t disappoint.
Jedry piled up 8 kills and 8 digs as a balanced Marist attack took down Skutt Catholic (Neb.) 25-22, 28-26 on Oct. 5 to win the championship of the ASICS Challenge at Mother McAuley.
“Knowing that Cam and Maddie are the go-to hitters, it makes me play even better,” Jedry said. “I want the ball more, so when it does come to me, I know it’s my chance to step up. It’s not a negative to hit behind them. I know they’re great players. That motivates me even more.”
The RedHawks improved to 22-2, winning their second ASICS title in three years and making their third straight title-match appearance.
The team’s offensive prowess was on display throughout with Arundel (10 kills, 8 digs), Hannah (8 kills, 3 blocks), Mary Clare Brusek (5 kills) and Ellie Kurpeikis (3 kills) also contributing.
Jones (Most Holy Redeemer) kept the offense clicking on all cylinders, racking up 31 assists and 3 kills.
With the game hanging in the balance, Jones welcomed the chance to spread the wealth.
“In games like this that are so competitive, it’s much easier to go with the flow [and pass],” Jones said. “If it’s a bad pass, I have to find a hitter that works. I’m looking for the best hitter to hit that ball.”
In a late slugfest as both teams pounded kill after kill, Jones did a phenomenal job of passing to her hitters.
At 15-all, Hannah (Clemson) led the way with 3 kills down the stretch with Jedry, Brusek (Queen of Martyrs) and Arundel slamming 2 kills each. Jones snuck a kill past the block; Hannah added an ace; and Brusek provided a huge block for the match-winner. Jedry put Marist up 27-26 with a powerful kill to set up Brusek’s block.
Skutt finished with 22 kills, including 12 in the second set, as the Skyhawks battled the RedHawks.
Marist Coach Jordan Vidovic said that with so much depth at the hitting positions, no egos have come into play. Instead, it’s driven competition in a positive way.
“They all have such a unique style. They all bring a different dynamic for the other team to defend,” Vidovic said. “Maddie is 100 miles per hour; Cam has a crazy-high contact point; and Avery hits change-ups that go off the block. She knows exactly where she’s putting it and exactly what she’s trying to do. It’s all different elements, and they feed off that.”
The title win provided some redemption for the RedHawks who lost the championship at Wheaton-Warrenville South to conference rival Benet in late September.
“This can be a turning point because our last tournament didn’t have the outcome we wanted,” Jedry said. “This was our time where we could show that we were committed to take that step up. That last game showed we’re capable of a lot more.”