In volleyball circles, great fanfare accompanied Morgan Reardon’s arrival at Joliet Catholic Academy as many of her most avid fans ratcheted up talk of her potential to become the next in a long line of Angel attack forces.
Little did JCA coach Christine Scheibe know Reardon would connect for her first big hit in an honors English class. Reardon, in a bid to dress up her khaki slacks and white polo JCA uniform, decided to sock it to the idea of all-bland all-the-time—all in good-natured fun, of course.
“She was in honors English her freshman year,” Scheibe said. “She’s a very strong student. She’s a member of National Honor Society. But I just remember every day our conversations about her socks.
“She always wore very interesting socks—colorful, patterns. They were always unique. And, so, when my husband Bill (Scheibe) and I went to Las Vegas one year, they have a sock store at one of the shops at Mandalay Bay.
“I had to go out and pick her some interesting socks that I brought back for her from Vegas. One pair was ‘Hello Kitty’ and the other was a bunch of hearts.”
Scheibe and Reardon, now a 6-foot senior outside hitter and the leader of a JCA team that is 9-1, hit it off right from the start. Reardon hasn't skipped a beat since that auspicious beginning.
She has been hitting rocket shots ever since she cracked the varsity lineup as a sophomore. She racked up 11 kills in a 25-12, 25-13 sweep of Bolingbrook on Tuesday.
And she totaled 311 kills during her junior year, while earning all-conference, all-area and all-state honors. Reardon led JCA to its 11th straight regional championship. She has a chance to far surpass that kill mark this season in the Angels’ new 5-1 offense.
In fact, she could end her high school career breaking some of the records held by JCA’s volleyball elite, the list running the gamut from Allie Quigley to Kelly Murphy and Annemarie Hickey. Quigley set the school single-season record for kills (511) before going on to play college basketball at DePaul.
“She was easy to teach because she had that same work ethic in the classroom that she has on the volleyball court,” Scheibe said. “Yet, that light attitude, that she doesn’t take anything too seriously but she knows to take it seriously when it counts.”
Reardon was welcomed into the mix by many of the Angels’ older, more experienced players when she moved up the varsity ranks. Now, the tables have turned. She is mentoring JCA’s two youngest pups—right-side setter Mary Murphy and middle hitter Maddie Naal, both sophomores.
Reardon’s game has come full circle, too.
“I feel like I was a little more of a shy player when I was a sophomore, just getting used to the different things on the varsity level,” she said. “I didn’t really get my personality out there. It came out eventually.
“All the girls were welcoming. They boosted me up. I was more of a stronger hitter when I was younger. I think my defense has come around with age.”
Reardon will be reunited with former JCA teammate and good friend Kelly Feigh when she heads off to Loyola and the Division I college volleyball ranks next school year. Before that happens, Reardon wants to add one more title to her resume.
“Breaking some of the school records, that would be nice,” she said. “That would be an honor to be up there with some of the girls that have come before me. I have no idea how close I am. I’m not counting. I’m more concerned about a state championship.”
JCA won back-to-back state titles in 2008 and ’09 and placed second in Class 3A in 2010. Scheibe, with a record of 393-86, is closing in on the 400-win milestone in her 13th season coaching the Angels.
Reardon was a sophomore on the last JCA team to bring home an IHSA state tournament trophy. Her legend was just beginning to grow as word spread outside the walls of Scheibe’s classroom.
“I had her for freshman English class,” Reardon said. “Every day I’d come in with a new funky pair of socks. It was kind of my thing. When you have such a boring uniform, you’ve got to find some way to spice it up.
“So, I’d come in with checkers or polka-a-dots or even snowmen, you know, festive. As the year want on, every day, she’d come in, check my socks. We’d go around class. And then she brought me back some socks from Vegas.
“That was a pretty great gift. I still wear them today actually.”
On the other side of the net, nobody is looking. They’re ducking. Reardon keeps socking it to them.