Even though Marist competed in just two varsity matches during the first two weeks of the 2013 season, Julie Popp-Hopkins hasn’t been idle.
The Lady RedHawks’ first-year coach has been taking in the entire new experience and loves everything she is seeing within the program, especially from her own players.
And that love was particularly evident when she watched Marist play with resilience against defending Class 4A state champion Benet Academy. The Lady RedHawks (2-0) fought back from a first-game loss to defeat the Lady Redwings in three sets, 12-25, 25-19, 25-21, Friday night in Lisle.
Ann Marie Stifter put down 11 kills for Marist, while Colleen Riley and Lizzie Zaleski both delivered eight. Riley augmented her work with three blocks. Also lending a hand were Molly Mayo (31 assists, seven digs) and Carolyn Yerkes (11 digs).
“Playing on the road and defeating Benet was a great experience,” said Popp-Hopkins, a Queen of Peace graduate who also had a stellar collegiate volleyball career at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
“Benet is a great program. They’re in our [East Suburban Catholic] conference and they’re back-to-back state champions, so there was a lot preparation on our end to face them.