Stats? They’re not all that

Num­bers don’t tell the whole story of Cal­la­han’s im­por­tance to Marist

Daily Southtown - - SPORTS - By Tony Baranek

Abby Cal­la­han might not be the most no­tice­able player on the court when Marist meets Benet on Fri­day in a Class 4A semi­fi­nal.

But her im­por­tance won’t be de­nied.

RedHawks coach Jor­dan Vi­dovic made a star­tling dis­cov­ery about the 5-foot-10 se­nior while go­ing through some game films ear­lier in the sea­son.

“Af­ter our sec­ond tour­na­ment I no­ticed she wasn’t lead­ing us in kills, she wasn’t lead­ing us in blocks,” Vi­dovic said. “I thought, ‘How can we get her go­ing more?’ So I watched the film and I was like, ‘Man, she im­pacts every point in some pos­i­tive way.’

“You don’t see it on the stat sheet, but in many ways she has been in­cred­i­bly valu­able.”

As a mid­dle hit­ter. As a blocker. As a mo­ti­va­tor. As a cap­tain.

Cal­la­han’s big­gest value might be not in what she does, but what she could do. She and fel­low mid­dle hit­ter Mat­tie McCabe both are ex­cel­lent de­coys.

“Other teams def­i­nitely know that they have to hold with us (mid­dle hit­ters) on a good pass,” Cal­la­han said.

“That opens up holes all the way across the board for the

out­sides and the right­sides.”

As the hit­ting stats pile up for Cam­ryn Han­nah, Mad­die Arun­del and Avery Jedry, she’s happy to help.

“I have a lot of fun with it,” Cal­la­han said. “I think that’s a big part of why peo­ple play sports — to have fun. I def­i­nitely en­joy this team and this pro­gram.”

Cal­la­han is one of seven re­turnees who will be try­ing to win their sec­ond con­sec­u­tive state ti­tle. Nine play­ers from the 2017 team grad­u­ated. Four were all-area play­ers, in­clud­ing Player of the Year Molly Mur­rihy.

“We knew what we were los­ing, but the peo­ple com­ing back who were there last year knew what it would take,” Cal­la­han said. “Some of the sopho­mores who are ju­niors now, got pulled up dur­ing play­offs and saw the ef­fort that was put in to get there.”

One of the lat­ter is ju­nior out­side hit­ter Jedry, who was brought up from the JV for the play­offs and watched at Red­bird Arena from the bench.

“See­ing Abby start as a ju­nior was pretty cool, es­pe­cially with that large se­nior class,” Jedry said. “For her to start and be a leader to even the older girls kind of in­spired me.

“She knows how to treat ev­ery­one on the team. She’s the one per­son that any­one can go to if they are strug­gling. And if she sees some­one else strug­gling, she’ll be the one to step in and take the ini­tia­tive to help them be bet­ter on the court and off the court.”

Cal­la­han has been much more than just a de­coy for the RedHawks. She has 152 kills and 58 blocks.

“Be­cause she’s not the big­gest for her po­si­tion in the mid­dle, some teams get caught off guard,” Vi­dovic said. “When she comes fly­ing in at full speed and rips the ball past them, they don’t re­ally know what just hap­pened.

“And Abby doesn’t change when things get tight. If any­thing, she seems to get more com­fort­able. She gives us some mo­men­tum points, whether it’s just touch­ing the ball or cov­er­ing the ball, things you wouldn’t no­tice. She changes tough games for us.”

Marist and Benet have met twice. The RedHawks won 25-23, 23-25, 25-19 at the Wheaton Clas­sic. Benet won 22-25, 25-22, 25-19 in a con­fer­ence match on Oct. 16.

The Red­wings are led by sopho­more out­side hit­ter Kyla Ken­ney and se­nior set­ter Ally Van Eek­eren.

“Their strength is in wear­ing you down,” Vi­dovic said. “We’re com­fort­able and con­fi­dent in what we need to do phys­i­cally, but we know we’re in for a men­tal bat­tle.

“Our girls were thrilled to see them win, be­cause we know what that sets up. I mean, what more can you ask for, play­ing your big­gest ri­val, play­ing a team in your con­fer­ence that you’ve bat­tled for five years now? Peo­ple say that doesn’t hap­pen any­more. But it’s hap­pen­ing this year.

“We’re em­brac­ing the op­por­tu­nity.”

GARY MIDDENDORF/DAILY SOUTHTOWN

Se­nior Abby Cal­la­han, right, doesn’t need to put big num­bers on the stat sheet to prove her worth for Marist.

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