GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Stephanie Galan leads de Sales into sectional

2013-11-04T18:00:00Z 2014-05-23T20:54:15Z Stephanie Galan leads de Sales into sectionalPhil Arvia Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
November 04, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

Her younger sister, a teammate, describes her as "sassy." Her coach, to whom she has been known to suggest lineup changes, regards her as "a determined young lady."

As a 5-foot-3 outside hitter on St. Francis de Sales' volleyball team, playing a sport and a position generally reserved for those more vertically blessed, you might say Stephanie Galan has a chip on her shoulder.

But the chip hasn't been placed there for those who doubt the Pioneers' captain. Rather, it is for those who doubt her school.

"I feel like other teams probably think my school isn't as good as their school," she said. "This year, I personally think all of our sports teams are pretty good — especially volleyball."

Galan noticed the looks on the faces of observers as her team rolled to its first regional title in 20 years Thursday at Seton Academy.

"We proved to them we can play," she said. "They looked speechless."

With the win, de Sales (14-5) advanced to a Class 1A Sectional semifinal at 6 p.m. today at Harvest Christian Academy in Elgin. They'll meet North Shore Country Day (11-7).

North Shore, in Winnetka, lost on Sept. 10 to Morgan Park Academy, 25-16, 25-9. In October, de Sales topped Morgan Park Academy 25-13, 25-14.

Pioneers coach Arlene Ramos isn't concerned about common opponents, or her team.

"I feel we're going to put up the biggest fight we've ever put up on Tuesday," she said.

Perhaps because a fighter, Galan, leads them.

"She's strong-minded," Ramos said. "She's determined."

So determined, she's not afraid to break unwritten team rules.

"They all know, don't confront me during a game, don't tell me how to coach," Ramos said. "But she tested me this year, against East Chicago."

The test came after de Sales and E.C. Central split sets.

"She said, 'We have a lineup we want to give you and we think it will work,'" Ramos said. "We used her lineup. … We won the third game."

Galan concedes she can reach for the reins on occasion.

"I take charge because I've been playing the game for so long, and I know the game," said Galan, who began playing in fourth grade at Our Lady of Guadalupe. "I see peoples' strengths and weaknesses — if I see something bothering someone on my team, I can talk to them about it, get them to shake it off."

Or Galan can simply lead with her play.

Against Seton in the regional title match, she served for 10 straight points in the opening set. For the Pioneers' two regional wins, she totaled 13 kills, 24 assists, 15 digs and three aces.

Also a softball player at de Sales, Galan said volleyball is her favorite.

"I just love playing it," she said. "I was my first activity. It got me out of the house. It made me more social.

"I do think I'm better at volleyball (than softball), but I just enjoy it more, just the way the game goes. I like the excitement of hitting, or when I make the perfect set."

A sectional game will be uncharted territory for these Pioneers, but Galan contended signs of success or failure will be there for anyone to see before the match begins.

"The way we warm up, how pumped we are — that's how I usually know how we're going to do," she said. "When we're relaxed, it's like 'Who cares who the other team is?'"

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