McAuley Edges Sandburg, Marist Tops Providence to Advance to 4A Sectional Volleyball Final
The Mighty Macs and Redhawks are pushed to the limit at the Shepard Sectional, but they prevail to meet in Thursday's championship match.
The favorites prevailed in Tuesday's Shepard Sectional, but it was by no means easy for either of them.
Marist was first to claim its spot in the Class 4A sectional final in Palos Heights by topping Providence 25-23, 25-18. In the nightcap, Mother McAuley took down Sandburg 25-22, 27-25.
Marist (36-2) will meet McAuley (31-7) Thursday night to decide the sectional championship.
Providence (21-6) stayed right with Marist in Tuesday's first game by taking advantage of some Redhawk mistakes. However, the Celtics never were able to take a lead, despite clawing their way back from a 6-1 deficit.
In Game 2, Marist broke open a tight battle to open up a 20-11 lead. Providence cut that margin to five points before Marist settled the issue.
Junior middle hitter Lauren Zielinski had 11 kills for the Redhawks. Ashley Holder, a junior setter, led the team in assists with 26. Senior libero Caroline Niedospial had an impressive 19 digs on the night.
"They (Providence) have good hitters, they were putting the ball in good spots, they were serving pretty tough," Niedospial said. "It's always really fun."
Providence senior outside hitter Lauren Bizgys led the Celtics with eight kills on the night. Sophomore setter Krista Brakauskas had 19 assists and junior outside hitter Katie Urchell had six digs.
"It's always hard to lose the last game of the year," Providence head coach Rachel Ellingson said. "I think we definitely put our best foot forward. It's unfortunate we sometimes have those little hiccups where they get those little string of points in a row, but that's volleyball."
McAuley claimed its spot in the sectional final by outlasting Sandburg in a dramatic match. Sandburg (29-9) jumped out to an early lead before the Mighty Macs roared back to tie Game 1 at 9-all. The points went back and forth until the final minutes of the game when McAuley was able to pull out a three-point victory.
The second game told much the same story. The Mighty Macs looked ready to seal the deal by taking a 24-21 lead. But the Eagles came back to tie the score at 24-all and again at 25-all before McAuley finished with two straight points.
Senior outside hitter Mary Kate Styler had 13 kills on the night for McAuley. Senior setter Kailey Scott led the team with 33 assists and junior defensive specialist Bridget Powell had 17 digs.
Sandburg sophomore outside hitter Dakota Hampton led her team with seven kills. Paige Bendell, a sophomore defensive specialist, led the team in assists with 14 and had four kills on the night. Senior libero Kendra Mikuta had 14 digs.
"I don't fault them for anything that happened out there," Sandburg head coach David Vales said of his players. "They fought. They wanted it. They believed that they were still in that match."
McAuley and Marist will reignite their rivalry Thursday night.
"We're going to keep focusing on us and building on what we're doing right," McAuley head coach Jen DeJarld said. "We know it's going to be a battle on Thursday. It's going to be a big mountain to climb, but we'll be ready."