SOUTH HOLLAND | Our Lady of Guadalupe School is located in South Chicago, but you could call the Seton Academy gym a second home for its volleyball team.
With straight-game victories of 23-14 and 25-9 against Infant Jesus of Prague on Jan. 20, the OLG Mayas won the championship match of the Seton Academy Seventh-and-Eighth-Grade Volleyball Tournament.
It was the first time Seton Academy hosted a grade-school volleyball tournament; a fifth-and-sixth-grade version took place the following weekend. Yet the Mayas are familiar with attaining championship hardware on the Sting's court. Last spring, many of the team's same players were part of the OLG team that won the Seton Academy Volleyball League.
"Our girls have a lot of heart, and they know how to come together when we get behind," OLG head coach Cathi Ortiz said. "The girls have been playing together for several years, and it shows."
The Mayas have already won two other tournaments this fall/winter: the Crestwood Recreation and Wellness Center Tournament and the St. Margaret of Scotland Tournament.
"We're also playing in the St. Alexander League," said Ortiz, whose team will also defend its crown in the Seton Academy League when it starts in March. "Right now, we're not in first (in the SA league), but we're near the top."
The tournament had 14 teams from the Chicagoland area.
"We had a pretty diverse group of teams," Seton Academy athletic director Deon Tollive said.
"This is one of the few tournaments where public and private schools play against each other," tournament coordinator Laura Carrillo said. "As a player and a coach, it's always nice to play other schools that you don't normally face."
Last season, Carrillo coached the Our Lady of Guadalupe team. Though she has stepped down from coaching, she'll return as the SA Volleyball League director this upcoming season.
"The league is still growing," Carrillo said. "We've picked up some new schools."
The tournament format consisted of pool play that Saturday followed by a seeded bracket the following Sunday.
Flossmoor-based Infant Jesus of Prague advanced to the championship match — a road that consisted of surviving a thrilling three-game semifinal against St. Lawrence O'Toole — in spite of its seventh-seeded placement.
The following weekend, Our Lady of the Woods (Orland Park) defeated Our Lady of Guadalupe in the fifth-and-sixth-grade championship game.