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Jeff Vorva's Extra Point: Mighty Macs stomach a strange five-day stretch

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

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Mighty Macs stomach a strange five-day stretch.

There are times when sports are goofy and unpredictable.

There are situations that are hard to believe. I’ve been in this racket for a long time and I can’t remember hearing of a more goofy or unpredictable five-day stretch experienced by one area team.

Mother McAuley’s girls volleyball team is known for its dominance. It’s easy to dislike the Mighty Macs the same way it’s easy to dislike the New York Yankees and the Duke’s men’s basketball program.

But even the biggest McAuley haters may have to cringe and hold their stomachs when they hear this story and the team’s bizarre stretch from Friday, Sept. 11 through Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Friday: The team competed in pool play in the Louisville Invitational and won their matches and celebrated with some pizza.

There is some debate on whether it was the pizza or a flu that was going around the school but players and coaches were getting sick.

“It was like a scene out of ‘Bridesmaids,’ ’’ McAuley coach Jen DeJarld said. “It was hilarious, really.’’

 For those who understand that reference, feel free to stifle a burp. For those who don’t, YouTube up “ ‘Bridesmaids’ vomit scene’’ and that might give you an idea of how some the Mighty Macs turned into the Mighty Yacks.

Saturday: The girls put the ILL in Illinois as they were so sick, many of them couldn’t get out of the hotel to go out and complete. The three coaches on hand were also hurting so bad, they weren’t able to head to the tournament.

“Those were big games and we spent a lot of money to go there,” DeJarld said. “We took a five-and-a-half-hour bus trip and we wanted to play the top teams in the nation. We were looking forward to it.”

Some starters couldn’t answer the bell. Thoughts of forfeiting and getting the heck out of town were surfacing because of the setter situation. DeJarld said Abby O’Brien was sick and probably shouldn’t have played but she set for a makeshift team.

Scorekeeper Nancy Frederick, a veteran club volleyball coach at Ultimate and Michio Chicago, stepped in and the team finished 1-2, with one loss being a tight 25-20, 25-20 setback to national power Mercy Academy.

Sophomore Charley Niego, who escaped the illness said the team played well despite the circumstances.

“It was the same as if they were all there,” she said. “Even though our coaches weren’t there, we coached each other. We played like we usually play. It was weird but we got through it.’’

“The girls we had out there played so hard and so well,” DeJarld said.

The sick players and coaches went home early on the bus. The healthy folks came home later with the parents.

Sunday: It was supposed to be recovery day for everyone and DeJard was able to watch her son, Jack play youth football. But when she got home, she started feeling severe cramps in her stomach and couldn’t sleep.

Monday: A trip to Palos Hospital revealed the DeJarld needed to have her appendix taken out and she heard that with a showdown with neighborhood rival Marist looming the next night, the recovering Macs had a bad practice.

Tuesday: The word was that DeJarld was probably not going to be in the McAuley gym for the big battle with Marist but at 4:30 p.m., she was released from the hospital, went home to shower and made it to the gym in time for the match.

She sat on the bench and stayed quiet some of the time while assistant Meg Gardner did the heavy lifting.

Marist students, by the way, planned on wearing white and when they found out about the flu/food poisoning many wore surgical face masks.

But McAuley had the last laugh with a 25-15, 18-25, 25-20 victory in the game that saw a lot of sloppy play mixed in with some jaw-dropping hits and digs from both sides.

“It was a really strange weekend,” senior Kayla Caffey. “We didn’t expect to get food poisoning from pepperoni pizza but we overcame it. We’re all fine now. We’re healthy.

“Everyone’s good.’’