Home Sports Ellie Stiernagle is Benet’s setter after lineup shuffle. A big move. But she focuses on supporting a teammate.

Ellie Stiernagle is Benet’s setter after lineup shuffle. A big move. But she focuses on supporting a teammate.

by staff

Ellie Stiernagle didn’t know she was going to be Benet’s starting setter.

But she was prepared.


In an effort to shore up the team’s attack, Benet coach Brad Baker moved Colorado commit Audrey Asleson from setter to outside hitter and told Stiernagle she was running the show.

Stiernagle, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, has taken the opportunity and run with it.


“I think it’s going really well right now,” she said. “We changed the lineup so much last year, so you never know.

“But I’m getting confident, and I’m making sure that we’re supporting Audrey because it’s also a big change for her. We’re kind of focusing more on that. I love playing right now, but we’ve been supporting Audrey, and she’s been doing a great job.”

So has Stiernagle, who was masterful during Benet’s 25-12, 25-22 victory against Metea Valley in Lisle on Wednesday. She dished 23 assists to go with three kills and a block.

Stiernagle demonstrated a particularly strong connection with 6-5 sophomore middle hitter Lynney Tarnow, who led all players with 12 kills. Senior outside hitter Ava Novak added eight kills and three aces for the Redwings (6-1). Asleson, a junior, had three kills.

“Any time you have a new setter with brand new hitters, there’s going to be a natural learning curve,” Baker said. “It takes a little bit of time to get going, and Ellie’s gotten better.

“Last night I thought she was better. Same thing tonight. It’s step by step and day by day, just 1% here and 1% there.”

Stiernagle is in her second varsity season. She started at setter in a tournament at Wheaton North early last season and saw minimal playing time after that as Asleson established herself.

“She’s a hardworking kid,” Baker said of Stiernagle. “She set some for us last year, and she’s got a lot of experience. These kids play a ton in club. It’s not like this is their first rodeo out there, so she’s done this a lot.”


Stiernagle looked like a veteran against Metea Valley (6-2), which got blitzed in the first set as Tarnow and Novak combined for 12 kills.

“I love Ellie because obviously we’re the same age so we’ve been close ever since we came to Benet,” Tarnow said. “And I think it just shows how versatile our team is, that we can make a setter an outside and she does wonderful at it, and then Ellie is really stepping up into the setter’s shoes. She did great.”

Benet’s Lynney Tarnow spikes the ball during a nonconference match against Metea Valley in Lisle on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023.

The Redwings had more difficulty in the second set, falling behind 19-16. But Stiernagle responded with a kill off an overpass. That triggered a closing 9-3 run in which Novak served an ace and Stiernagle set Tarnow for back-to-back kills.

“I think that Ellie is just a very confident person,” Tarnow said. “She likes to have fun, and it shows on the court.”

Stiernagle said she is having plenty of fun and getting plenty of advice from Baker and Asleson.

“It’s such a learning opportunity because he’s such a great setter coach, so I get to learn a lot every day, and Audrey gives me a lot of tips too,” Stiernagle said. “She obviously did it before, so she’s definitely helping me.”


Junior defensive specialist Ava Ledebuhr had nine service points for Benet, and junior libero Aniya Warren, an Indiana commit, had five service points, 10 digs and three assists. Metea Valley star Camille Morrison was held to four kills.

While the Redwings have the depth and talent to make changes at any time, it sounds like Stiernagle will be the permanent setter while Asleson swings on the outside.

“Audrey keeps getting better, and that’s all we can ask of her,” Baker said. “She keeps working hard at it and wanting to do the position.

“Her response (to the switch) was, ‘I just want to win games, coach. Whatever you need me to do.’ We’re not thinking about where we’re going without her taking on that role and what she’s been able to do so far.”

Matt Le Cren is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.

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