Volleyball team using football players’ map
Elmhurst Monday, 10/22/12 Elmwood Park's Monika Pszczola (29) during the second game of Monday's regional match against Timothy Christian. Timothy Christian won the match, 25-10, 25-14. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 26, 2012 6:44AM
ELMHURST — Elmwood Park’s football success has been contagious.
After the football program won its first conference title in 27 years, girls volleyball coach Katie Prechel envisions a similar path for her team.
“Our football team is having this amazing season, but three years ago they had this losing record, but that’s where it starts,” said the second-year varsity coach. “When you’re building something, it takes time.”
Elmwood Park ended its season Monday night after losing in straight sets to Timothy Christian in the Class 3A Elmhurst regional.
The Tigers finished the season 5-23 overall and 1-11 in the Metro Suburban Conference. Those numbers are better than last season’s three overall wins and zero conference victories.
After the match against the Trojans, the Tigers huddled in a circle for the last time on the court.
“She said we had a really good season, which I think we did compared to last year because last year, we were a good team but we just never really know how to come together,” senior Monika Pszczola said. “I got to give it to my coach. She brought us together. She’s making this program go somewhere.”
None of the 14 girls on the Tigers roster play on club teams, but Pszczola said her coach didn’t use that as an excuse when taking the court against year-round players.
“For a lot of us, this is our secondary sport; we play more than one,” said Pszczola, who plays libero. “She molded into these great players to play against these great teams.”
Their wins came toward the end of the season against Waukegan and Prosser. But this season, the Tigers take pride in the tight games they’ve played.
One of those was against Timothy Christian earlier in October, when Elmwood Park brought that match to three sets.
Senior setter Indigo Bruno admitted the Tigers’ record last year was an ugly one, but it helped her see where the program is heading.
“Going from a losing streak of practically the whole season to having a shot at regionals this year is definitely a big difference, and coach just really helped us find unity in the program,” Bruno said. “It’s more community with the girls.”
Prechel introduced more bonding activities, such as team dinners and middle-school volleyball nights, that were new to the program.
But Prechel isn’t taking all the credit, and she doesn’t want the program’s progression to halt.
She will be graduating eight seniors who are the bulk of her starters but is looking forward to the leadership her returning players will bring back.
“I told them that what they’ve done in the past couple of years, and especially this season is really going to take out program to new levels,” Prechel said. “What they’ve done is helped build something better than previous years.”