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After going undefeated in the Catholic High School League (CHSL) last year, an early league loss against Everest Collegiate High School could have had a detrimental impact on the rest of the Greenhills volleyball team’s current season. Instead, it ignited a fierce determination in the players, evident during their Oct. 2 matchup against the University Liggett School (ULS) Knights. 

It was anyone’s game going into the first set, with Liggett being one of Greenhills’ most closely matched CHSL opponents. However, the Gryphons emerged victorious, sweeping the Knights in three sets (25-16, 25-12, 25-18) and improving to 10-1 on the season and 7-1 in the CHSL.

The team was slow to start, but Tillie Klein ’25, the team’s libero, brought a strong defensive presence to the court and helped the team turn things around for the second and third sets. 

“Once she got into a routine and started to figure out the type of attack attempts coming from Liggett and how to play them, she was able to really set up our hitters,” Head Coach Tiffany Willard said about Klein, who finished the game with 18 digs and, contributed significantly to the team’s success. 

“We also brought offense,” added Willard, “and a lot of different types of tempo to sets, which is something we’ve been working on.”  

Captain Ava Englesbe ’24 was another guiding force and contributed to the Gryphons’ win with 15 kills, 24 digs, and a .90 serve percentage. But grit and skill weren’t the only factors at play. 

“Ava leads through her work ethic and skilled play, but the way she connects with her team stands out,” said Willard. “She will cheer louder for her teammates than she cheers for her own accomplishments.” 

Englesbe’s positive attitude and sense of camaraderie for her teammates are qualities shared across the roster and have been imperative to the Gryphons’ performance, both against the Knights and throughout the season. In the past, Willard has had to make rules to ensure the team was doing what they call “positive touches” and uplifting each other through the good and the bad. But this year’s team is doing it on their own, and it has made all the difference. 

“In volleyball, if you get in each other’s heads, you’re coming down, but this group has found a way to keep that out,” said Willard. “They play at their best when they are loose, laughing, and enjoying the moment.”

Willard is confident the team can keep the momentum going and make a strong push in the postseason. The Gryphons secured their 11th win of the season on Oct. 5 against Allen Park Inter-city Baptist School and are on track to lock in the second-seed position in the CHSL conference tournament. Greenhills will host first- and second-round matchups the week of Oct. 9 and, with good tournament play, could get another crack at Everest Collegiate.

Saturday, April 24
Open to anyone ages 16 and up. Limited quantities available.
Greenhills is closed for mid-winter break and will return on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

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