While it's less than halfway through the golf season, Benet and Naperville North — considered among the best in the western suburbs and expected to meet in the state tournament — have become quite familiar with each other, including competing this week on the Huskies' home course at Cress Creek Country Club.
It was the fourth time the two had met, but the result was the same: The Redwings topped Naperville North 163-168. Neither team played especially well on a windy day, with North 17 strokes above its nine-hole average.
Benet sophomore Alex Bassetto had the low score of the day, shooting a 39. Josh Harrington was low man for Naperville North with a 41
"I was pleased with Bassetto's 39," said Benet coach Dan Nagis. "Also impressive was junior Ben Johnson's 40 and junior George Carroll's 41. I'm very pleased with our season so far, but now we enter crunch time with key matchups with conference foe St. Viator and the very challenging Hinsdale Central Invite."
In the first tournament of the year, Benet won the Naperville Central Invitational, with Naperville North finishing second. The order remained the same the next day at the McGonagle Naperville City Championships on Aug. 20, with Benet besting Naperville North by a single stroke. Benet also topped the Huskies in the Batavia Invitational on Sept. 7, a tournament dominated by defending state champ Hinsdale Central.
But the close calls haven't fazed Huskies coach Ryan Hantak.
"The season so far has been pretty solid, especially in the (DuPage Valley Conference)," he said. "We are tied for first with Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South."
The Huskies finished second in the state last year behind the strong play of Ray Knoll, who's now playing at the University of Iowa. In the four years Knoll was on the team, Naperville North didn't lose a conference dual match, but five seniors are gone from last year's team.
Huskies senior Michael Doherty, junior Griffin Brown and junior Kurt Krejci have been leading the new group to strong initial showings.
"We do have high expectations this year," Hantak said. "Our goal is to win conference and advance out of regionals."
Benet has also received strong contributions from its underclassmen.
"I am especially pleased with the play of our two juniors, Ben Johnson and George Carroll, both of whom have been consistent counters for us all season," Nagis said.
Girls volleyball: Neuqua Valley falls to Downers Grove South
The Neuqua Valley girls volleyball team lost a tough three-game match to Downers Grove South on Monday 25-18, 16-25, 17-25.
"(We) came out in Game 1 in total control, executing on offense and hoping it would carry over to Game 2," coach Kelly Simon said. "But something changed."
Neuqua Valley came out flat in the second game, while Downers Grove South started with four kills and a block for early leads of 9-5 and 17-13. The Wildcats couldn't overcome the service errors, and the Mustangs ran away with the game 25-16.
The third game started well for Neuqua Valley, which took a 7-2 lead. But Downers Grove South scored nine of its first 10 points on kills and aces, taking the game to a 10-10 tie. A run by the Mustangs put Neuqua Valley in an 18-12 hole from which it couldn't recover.
"This was a very frustrating loss," Simon said. "The Wildcats need to take a very valuable lesson away from it. No matter how much a team dominates in one game, if that momentum and drive does not carry over to the next game, anything can happen."
Simon credited the defense for the Mustangs' success, noting that Neuqua Valley swung a match-high 89 times with only 24 kills.
"The Mustangs dug and dug, which kept (us) from scoring on offense," she said. "Combine the lack of kills with 10 service errors and 15 points for Downers Grove South out of serve receive, and that equals an unfortunate loss for us."