Serve’s up: JCA opens ESCC season with dominant win over St. Viator

L to R: Megan Melone, Jessica Simon and Addy Alt were named the Three Stars of the Match by the coaching staff after Tuesday's win over St. Viator.

L to R: Megan Melone, Jessica Simon and Addy Alt were named the Three Stars of the Match by the coaching staff after Tuesday’s win over St. Viator.

By JCA Communications

Defense wins championships. But so does serving.

Nobody has to remind senior setter Megan Melone of those facts. A returning captain from Joliet Catholic Academy’s Class 3A state runners-up last year and a libero in the club season, Melone knows the importance of both aspects.

Led by 3 aces each from Addy Alt and Megan Cladis, JCA continued its torrid pace at the service line with 9 aces Tuesday in a 25-16, 25-13 victory over host St. Viator in both teams’ East Suburban Catholic Conference opener.

“It wasn’t just the number of aces either,” JCA coach Christine Scheibe said. “We served aggressively and took them out of system right away, and I thought Megan did very, very well on that at the start and end of the games.”

Indeed, Melone and junior outside hitter Taylor Zurliene combined for 3 aces as JCA (3-1, 1-0) jumped to leads of 20-9 and 20-7 in Games 1 and 2, respectively. Melone added 8 assists and 3 digs and Zurliene contributed 6 digs.

Senior middle hitters Andriana Acosta and Alt paced another balanced offensive attack for the Angels with 5 kills apiece. Senior setter Jessica Simon managed 6 assists. Acosta, Simon and Zurliene also notched block kills.

Defensively, senior libero Meghan Harrison starred with 15 digs. Cladis, a senior outside who chalked up 3 kills, was next with 9 digs. Handling most of the passing, Cladis marked a 2.67 serve-receive rating and Harrison had a 2.33.

Serving was the X-factor, though.

“I liked the way we passed and ran our offense,” Scheibe said. “You add to  that how well we were able to serve the ball aggressively, and we felt like we were in complete control of the match the entire night. We never really let up.”

In Game 1, JCA led 9-5 and 17-7 to force timeouts. A similar script was followed in Game 2, with JCA jumping ahead 10-2 and 18-7 in forcing timeouts. The only hiccup was in Game 1, when St. Viator closed within 20-16.

“I thought Melone and ‘Tay’ came through in key moments with their serve,” Scheibe said. “They went on strong service runs. It’s always great when you have your captain back from the year before like Meg to lead the way.”

Notes: Junior defensive specialist Marissa Sliwa and junior right-side hitter/middle Sheridan Kelly made their varsity debuts … Sliwa delivered a perfect pass to end with a 3.0 serve-receive rating and chipped in with a dig … Zurliene finished with 2 aces and passed at a 2.0 … Alt and sophomore right-side/setter Sarah Nahas tallied assists … Alt was particularly active and especially effective in running her fakes, allowing the offense to be completely unpredictable … The Angels’ defense delivered a dynamite 41 digs by nine players … Alt, Melone and Simon were voted by the coaching staff as the Three Stars of the Match … The match was broadcast live by The Cube.

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