LOWELL | In a match that was lopsided at times, Julie Wiejak still needed points to belabor.
When the Andrean coach wasn’t clarifying calls by line judges, she was constructively critiquing her 6-foot-4 senior outside hitter’s net play and pushing her toward perfection.
Senior Marija Nicksic responded to each and every cue her coach gave with 11 blocks and five attack kills as Times No. 3 Andrean swept host Lowell 25-15, 25-7, 25-21 Thursday night at The Pit in Northwest Crossroads Conference action.
Wiejak was a master of blocking at Bishop Noll and then Loyola, but she is hoping Nicksic can become automatic no matter the other team’s hitting schemes. Andrean then can have a huge run behind Nicksic and classmates Kellie Wojciechowski, Lauren Stazinski, Marisa Beemsterboer and Kate Meccia.
Lowell ran an attack Andrean hadn’t seen this season, and Wiejak was quick with pointers after nearly every play when Nicksic was in the front row.
“I feel like it looks like (I’m being singled out) a lot, but with how tall I am and how many touches I get; I have a lot of work to do,” Nicksic said. “I know that if I ask (Wiejak) a question, I’ll get a great answer. She’s an amazing coach.
“Ask and you shall receive. It’s magical.”
The 59ers (10-2, 3-0) are striving for magical play behind the net, and the main obstacles were Lowell hitters Ashley DeBoer (five kills on 24-of-28 hitting) and Meagan Fitzgerald (20-of-22 hitting, three kills). Once Nicksic and the 59ers pegged them, the games went quickly.
“This game, I was working on not looking at the ball and focusing on looking at the hitter’s arm,” Nicksic said. “If you get caught looking at the ball, you’re going to get it shoved in your face.”
Wojciechowski had a team-high 12 kills, while Stazinski added six attack kills and four blocks.
Nicksic played junior varsity when her sister Ana took the 59ers to semistate, but she has gained lots of confidence as a senior.
“It is absolutely amazing having a coach who tells us every day that we are in charge of ourselves and to not let anyone have power over you,” Nicksic said.
Andrean played to its own high standard to start the match and unraveled slightly in the third set against a revitalized Lowell attack.
The Red Devils (7-5, 3-2) tied the game at 19 after several odd plays and call reversals knocked the teams off focus. During a timeout at 19-19, Wiejak told her team to let everything go because no one’s perfect.
“For two and a half games tonight the team did awesome,” Wiejak said. “They got in the zone, got out of it and then were able to bounce back, and that shows we’re learning.”
Lowell, which took a game from Munster, came close to forcing a fourth with Andrean, and DeBoer’s play from both sides and both rows was key to that.
“We can play with them,” Lowell coach Dana Jeffries-Radtke said. “(At the timeout at 19-19) I told them, ‘Way to take it to them. We have nothing to lose.’ It doesn’t matter if you’re down 2-0, especially with these young girls, because we are just fighters.”