LHS Volleyball Coach: Team Overcame Adversity for Winning Season
Libertyville Patch sits down for a question-and-answer session with coach Greg Loika.
Following a stellar season that ended with a three-set loss to Stevenson High School in the sectional semifinals, Libertyville Patch talked to Libertyville High School volleyball coach Greg Loika about his squad's outstanding season, which included a 35-3 overall record.
Libertyville Patch: What was the most memorable moment of the 2010 girls volleyball season for you, coach?
Greg Loika: There were a lot of things that were memorable. One thing that stands out is how we, at one point, took 27 games in a row. We also went through some rough parts in the schedule that we were able to play through and overcame a lot of adversity. Most of all, I think, it was very exciting to do even better than we did the year before, and the fact that we came together as a team so well was wonderful to see.
Libertyville Patch: What was the most challenging part of the season?
Loika: We had a very talented group, and a lot of depth 1-15, so finding a role for everybody was difficult at times. But as a team, the girls were fantastic about accepting their roles and working together as a group to accomplish our goals. There was no in-fighting or drama, which can sometimes happen during the course of a season, which is a credit to the team.
Libertyville Patch: If you had to do anything over in the sectional semifinal game against Stevenson, would you?
Loika: No, not at all. We had a good gameplan, but the bottom line was we didn't execute as well as we should have the entire duration of the match. We could have gotten some momentum by winning the first set when we were up 23-21, but we couldn't finish. Then we scratched out a win in the second set but ran out of gas near the end in the third set. Stevenson played a real good game, and our girls gave it their best shot.
Libertyville Patch: What are you looking forward to most about next season?
Loika: The good thing is we will be retuning some players who have experience. There should be at least five starters back, which will include three girls who were sophomores this year and two who were juniors. It's always a good thing to bring back girls to the team who have varsity experience, which we will be able to do. Of course, it will hurt to lose our [nine] seniors, but we should be a very competitive team again next season.
Libertyville Patch: While it is understood that it takes a team effort to be successful, were there any players who really stood out as the team's most valuable players this year, or that you feel deserve to be recognized?
Loika: We had a team that was really balanced yet was imbalanced at the same time. What I mean by that is we had our players who really stood out for their play, and got more coverage than others and ones who had their moments to shine when they were asked to, as well. Someone always seemed to step up in different ways each night. Everyone on this team complemented everyone else nicely. Paige Hopper did a great job, Catie Steffen was outstanding, and sophomore Cindy Zhou was a key to our offense running as a setter. Kristin Webb was another standout sophomore. All four were all-conference and all-area players, too.
Libertyville Patch: Every season in sports is different and unique. What did you learn as a coach from this year's Libertyville team?
Loika: I think the value of what a team can accomplish when all of the girls on the team, from the starters to the role players, are focused on a goal was very important. Even when we had players who were hurt or weren't 100 percent, people stepped up and really worked together. This group cared about each other a lot as a team, played through plenty of adversity and had the pressure of having a target on their backs almost every game. The way they responded to that kind of pressure together was great to see.