photo (9)By Peter Fusilero

Sports Editor

With the entire boys’ volleyball team looking on, senior Kiley Walsh served the birdie over the net. As the Stevenson player returned the serve, Walsh’s doubles partner, senior Noreen Caporusso, went down in pain clutching her left knee.

As if it were déjà vu, Caporusso had torn her ACL for the second time.

“The emotions have not subsided,” Walsh said. “We’re grieving for her athletic ability and everything that could have been. It was just really hard.”

That was a month ago. Fast forward to today, the badminton program is now headed down to Eastern Illinois for the state tournament.

The entire team moving on from sectionals will be juniors Jessica Hirsh and Stephanie Venturelli (first place) along with senior Zoey Groh and junior Kendall Dawson (fourth place) in doubles. Competing in singles will be Kiley Walsh (first place) and Emma Menich (fourth place).

Head coach Jean Rezny is very proud of her team making it down to state because of the adversity they overcame.

“They showed so much dedication in spite of [Noreen’s situation], and they played an outstanding sectional,” Rezny said. “To qualify your entire team is very difficult.”

The state tournament lasts three days and is double elimination. Venturelli believes her experience with doubles last year at state will be an advantage.

“We know what we’re going to see,” Venturelli said. “We have to take it slow and focus on each point.”

Walsh and Menich will be thrown into a drawing to be randomly matched up with their opponents. According to Walsh, the consolation bracket is an exhausting amount of matches, so winning all matches the first day is very vital.

“[The consolation bracket] is a big fight,” Walsh said. “I’m just trying to make it to Saturday.”

The top 16 for both singles and doubles move on to play Saturday to compete for a state title. The entire badminton program, specifically Walsh, is trying to win for Caporusso.

“Every point I play this weekend and every point I have played is all for Noreen,” Walsh said. “She is my best friend, and she is the best partner anyone could ever want. I keep telling everybody that this weekend I will be the only singles player with a doubles partner.”