MINOOKA — The Minooka varsity girls volleyball team totaled 26 service points Tuesday night, and each ended up being critical to its 25-23, 29-27 defeat of Oswego East.
For one night, the Indians' service points served a greater purpose than providing a fraction of a winning score. Their "Points for Pavelka" special event meant that each point raised money for the Pavelka Family Fund and specifically for Minooka science teacher Sam Pavelka, who is battling Ewing's sarcoma, a form of cancer.
Pavelka was on hand to root for the Indians. He originally thought his attendance would be physically impossible, but positive news during a doctor visit Friday made him decide to attend.
"He said the tumor had shrunk quite a bit," Pavelka said. "I miss seeing my students every day. They have the best students around here at Minooka High School. I'm just blown away by them doing this event. It truly helped raise my spirits, especially when I've been going through chemo. It's made me want to fight harder and be strong. It's an amazing feeling."
Donations were made on literally per-point basis, either for the whole team or through the sponsorship of individual players. Money was also raised through a 50/50 raffle — $200 was announced as the prize for the winner — and through the sale of T-shirts. Shirts with "Points for Pavelka" printed on them in the Indians' orange were worn by Minooka players, coaches and fans. East coaches also wore shirts with the lettering in Wolves' blue.
"Sam's wife (Cheryl Pavelka) is a first-grade teacher, so we were able to tie it into both communities that way," Minooka coach Chris Hoelscher said.
Hoelscher said the idea came from and was developed by the Minooka coaching staff.
"We do something for Breast Cancer Awareness Month every year, but it's nice to be able to do something like this for someone so close to home, who is one of our own," Hoelscher said.
Minooka outside hitter Skyler Day had five service points during the match. She has had classes with Pavelka, who estimates that he has taught about seven of the players in the program.
"We had done Volley for the Cure and had games where we raised money for breast cancer, but it means so much more to do it for someone we know," Day said. "I'm really glad we were able to help him out."
Kelli Holstine was the Indians' leader in service points with seven.