Girls Volleyball: State champion Benet’s D starts with Doyle
BY NEIL SHALIN For Sun-Times Media November 13, 2012 8:04PM
Benet libero Sheila Doyle is this year's Naperville Sun Girls Volleyball Player of the Year. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 14, 2012 3:20PM
The name of the game is defense for the two-time Illinois state champion Benet volleyball team, and that defense is led by the Naperville Sun Girls Volleyball Player of the Year, libero Sheila Doyle.
“Sheila is the leader of our defense,” said Benet coach Brad Baker. “She sets the team’s mind-frame that nothing is going to hit the floor. To play her position at the level she plays, you have to make plays most players don’t make and you have to do it consistently.”
In volleyball, according to Baker, the team with the best defense and ball control the majority of the time has the best chance of winning, and Doyle gives the Redwings that advantage from the opening serve.
“Libero is like no other position,” said Doyle. “Your job is to stop the other team from scoring and you have to be determined to keep the ball off the floor. And you have to have that attitude for every play.”
Doyle and her teammates have done that so well that they’ve reached the pinnacle of success the past two years, winning the state title.
In the season just completed, the 5-foot-5 senior, who will continue her volleyball career next year at North Carolina, the team finished at 40-2 and part of Doyle’s contribution was to come up with 375 digs.
“We came into this season as underdogs because so many girls graduated from last year’s championship team,” Doyle said. “We wanted to prove ourselves and prove to everyone that we’re still a great volleyball team. And, I believe we’ve done that throughout the season. We knew going into the season that we had great players, especially the new starters who didn’t get to play a lot last year.”
What is it that makes Doyle such an asset to the team at her position and our choice as Sun Player of the Year?
“Quickness and reading the hitters are the two biggest factors in being a successful libero,” said Doyle. “You have to be tenacious on “D” and go after every ball. I have five siblings and I grew up playing sports. I have a competitive nature. You have to bring that competitive energy to every match and to every practice.”
“Her quickness helps her get in position to make plays,” said Baker. “Her ability to read what’s going on before the ball is hit or served gives her a big advantage. And she’s not afraid to go after every ball and give up her body on every play. “
Baker said that Doyle covers so much ground that it’s hard for the other team to hit the ball away from her.
“If the ball is hit anywhere near her she takes it,” Baker said. “And when she gets to it she is just about guaranteed to deliver an accurate pass.”
In addition to her superior skills and competitive drive, Doyle is also respected by her teammates as an emotional team leader.
“She has everyone’s respect because of how hard she works,” said Baker. “She sets the tone with her play and people want to follow. She has a passion for the game. You can see the enthusiasm she brings to the court. She enjoys being around her teammates,”
Baker said Doyle is a kid who just “refuses to lose.”
“Downstate we lost the first game in both matches,” said Baker. “But we came back to win both. And Sheila was at the center of that. She’s never afraid to fight back. When she leads, people are willing to follow, because she’s been there before and gotten it done. “
“Last year the seniors showed us juniors how to be really good leaders,” Doyle said. “It made it easy for us because we learned how to make all the younger girls comfortable on the team. In volleyball there’s got to be a lot of trust among teammates. Our chemistry is unique. We hang out together off the court. We just love each other’s company. And we had another successful season. We can all be proud of ourselves.”