the voice of Lakes Community High School

Lakes Student Media

the voice of Lakes Community High School

Lakes Student Media

the voice of Lakes Community High School

Lakes Student Media

Bode’s Breakthrough

Sydney Friel
Lakes Girls Varsity Volleyball in a huddle before their first regional game against Cary Grove

The 2023 Lakes girls volleyball team had a successful season. Before conference play began, the Eagles took down a number of competitive opponents, most notably Woodstock North and Marian Central Catholic. The Eagles finished undefeated in conference, and took the Northern Lake County Conference (NLCC) championship.

Multiple Eagles climbed to the top of Illinois Class 3A stat leaderboards. Senior setter, Katie Mercure, finished ranked fifth in assists with 657 and now holds the new school record for career assists with 1430. Senior libero, Lainey Russo, finished ranked sixth in digs with 397. Finally, senior middle blocker, Kylie Ledyard, finished twelfth with a .309 hitting percentage. Even with major success, Lakes’ season did not come without a major loss.

Late into the second set on Tuesday, October 24th against the Grayslake North Knights, starting senior outside hitter, Jillian Ellenwood suffered a major injury.

“I was going up for a ball. It was a pretty tight set, but I like tight sets so it was it was a perfect set for me,” said Ellenwood. “So obviously, I was confident going up, I planted my feet, got up high and then my I came down on my left leg. I knew right away something happened.”

Coach Sarah Yeager had an unfortunately clear view of Ellenwood’s injury.

“I was standing like ten feet behind her and … I had this feeling that it was just not going to be good,” said Yeager. “I saw her knee buckle … It was horrific.”

Ellenwood carried a heavy load of the Eagles’ offense, with the second most kills for Lakes, 139, only trailing junior outside hitter, Adelyn Martin’s 155 kills.

“Jillian’s always been a key player for us,” said Yeager. “She has always played a prominent role in our offensive scheme.” Yeager explained that Ellenwood’s athleticism was not her only asset, “She’s a great positive teammate and leader and losing that is detrimental.”

Ellenwood suffered a season-ending injury, tearing her ACL, MCL, LCL, and meniscus. She has been wheelchair-bound, and is not expected to return to sports for at least a year.

“It’s definitely tough,” said Ellenwood. “I feel like I’ve always been an athlete … But I feel like I’m mostly struggling with the mental side [of recovery] … My friends have been coming over a lot. I feel like I’ve been trying to still stay outside even though I’m in a wheelchair.”

Luckily for the Eagles, junior Rylee Bode stepped up to take the place of Ellenwood. As a predominantly right side attacker before Ellenwood’s injury, Bode had to adapt to attacking on the left side in a short period of time.

“I’m trying to figure out how to work with the different sets and just trying to find the chemistry between me and Katie Mercure,” said Bode. “She’s been a lot of help. She’s definitely someone I look up to.”

Bode was primarily a junior varsity player, but occasionally came into varsity matches to give opposing teams a different type of attacker to worry about.

“She has stepped up a couple of times in varsity matches on the right side a lot,” Yeager said. “We’ve played her a couple different times at outside. So really, truly, she hasn’t had to come into matches and play huge roles, until just recently.”

Bode made an instant impact, earning 3 blocks, 5 digs, and 5 kills during the conference championship match against the Grant Bulldogs, including the championship-winning kill.

“She’s a great kid. She’s working really, really hard,” Yeager said. “I think she’s deserving of this [opportunity] and she’s also going out there trying to … do Jillian proud because we know that that’s a tough, tough position to be put in to come in and replace a starter like that.”

Ellenwood is happy to have her position filled by a player like Bode.

“Rylee is a very confident player, and I feel like she knows who she is,” said Ellenwood. “She knows she can be successful.”

Bode and the Lakes Eagles took down the Cary Grove Trojans in the regional semifinal and fell to the Carmel Corsairs in a three-set thriller, to end their season with a record of 23-10. The season did not end as hoped, but players stepped up to fill roles that were needed, and the Eagles had one their most successful seasons in quite some time.

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About the Contributors
Erik Stover
Erik Stover, Staff
Erik is a senior and this is his first year on staff. In his free time, he enjoys playing indoor and beach volleyball. He also likes listening to music and kayaking and paddleboarding on Cedar Lake. He is a Purdue basketball and volleyball superfan. His favorite athlete of all time is Micah Christenson from the USA National Volleyball Team.
Sydney Friel
Sydney Friel, Social Media Manager
Sydney Friel is a senior and this is her first year on staff. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends. She also is a big Chicago Bears fan. Her favorite athlete of all time is Gabby Douglas.