Girls Volleyball: Rachael Fara, Benet begin season with tourney title

Benet's Rachel Fara (right), shown in action last season, led the Redwings to their own invite title on Saturday. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Benet's Rachel Fara (right), shown in action last season, led the Redwings to their own invite title on Saturday. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media

It is the unofficial last weekend of summer, but Benet treats it as a first step forward. And the Redwings are off and running again.

No. 3 Benet won its eight-team Benet Invitational for the fourth straight year — seventh in the last eight — topping No. 9 Hinsdale Central 25-14, 25-23 Saturday in the championship match in Lisle.

Benet will participate in bigger tournaments as the season progresses, starting with the Wheaton Classic in mid-September. This provides a good early barometer.

“It’s always nice to get tested early in the season just to see where we’re at,” Benet coach Brad Baker said. “To beat somebody 25-15, it doesn’t really show what you got. It’s great to know that we have it in us when we’re pushed.”

Benet got that push in Game 2.

After never trailing in the first game — aided by 14 Hinsdale Central errors — Benet found itself down 17-14 in the second after an ace by Hinsdale’s Alexandra Davis. Rachael Fara answered with a kill and a block, and threw down another kill for an 18-18 tie.

At 21-21, Benet outside Dana Griffin placed a kill down the line, and at match point, sophomore lefty Veronica Snelling connected with a kill off the block.

“I love playing good teams like that,” said Fara, the Northwestern-bound senior who was named tournament MVP. “Hinsdale played much better in that second game. They brought it to us.”

Fara had four of her five kills in Game 2, also finishing with two blocks. It’s no secret Benet wants to get its 6-3 middle touches.

“You want to get her the ball,” Baker said. “But you have to do a lot of good things to get Rachael the ball.”

Hinsdale Central, 11-19 a year ago, perhaps served notice it’s a new year by beating St. Francis to win the Sports Performance summer league. The Red Devils acquitted themselves much better in Saturday’s second game.

Red Devils senior Lauren Fuller, in particular, came alive with eight of her 10 kills.

“For the seniors it was our last game in this tournament,” said the 6-3 Fuller, committed to San Diego. “We wanted to prove ourselves.”

Griffin had seven kills, Snelling six and Tiffany Clark eight digs for Benet (5-0), which earlier beat York 25-14, 25-21 to reach the final. Sophomore setter Sarah Nielsen had 18 assists.

Nielsen and Snelling were two girls getting their first varsity experience this weekend; others are playing more significant roles.

“We have lots of kids playing new roles, and it takes a while to come together,” Baker said. “We saw some flashes this tournament.”

Neuqua Valley, 2-1 in pool play, settled for fourth place. The Wildcats lost to Hinsdale Central 25-23, 25-23 and York 25-20, 26-24.

Waubonsie Valley (4-2) went 1-2 Friday, but bounced back Saturday. The Warriors rolled past West Aurora 25-10, 25-8 and then outlasted Lemont 25-18, 22-25, 25-23.

Becky Breuer and Brooke Burling had five kills, Caroline Cordes five blocks and sophomore middle Brianna Webb added five kills and three blocks for the Warriors.

“The way we played this weekend, it gives us hope,” Waubonsie coach Kristen Stuart said. “We were able to see that when we’re in system we’re pretty good.”

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