Nia Evans was perfect at the service line going into Monday's play-in match against No. 19 seed Waukegan in the Wheeling Class 4A regional.
The Wheeling senior had served between 30 and 40 times this season and not missed one.
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Evans had 13 more opportunities against Waukegan.
She is still perfect.
In fact, the 5-foot-4 defensive specialist broke open Set 1 by reeling off 9 straight points to break a 13-13 tie.
Her big run, that included 2 aces, helped spark the No. 16 Wildcats to a 25-14, 25-20 triumph. They advance to today's semifinal against No. 2 Hersey at 6:30 p.m.
The first semifinal at 5:30 p.m. matches No. 6 Rolling Meadows (19-13) and No. 11 Buffalo Grove (16-14).
"We knew Nia had been perfect serving so that's why she got the nod in Set 1," said Wildcats coach Jason Kopkowski. "She is kind of our utility player and we wanted a consistent server there in Set 1."
"I knew it was going to be important that I was consistent with my serve," said Evans, who also had 4 digs. "I just try to get it over. I try not to hit the net or hit it out of bounds."
The top hitter for the Wildcats (6-28) was senior Kellie Kuzmanic, who had 7 kills, followed by classmate Emma Jensen with 3.
"Hersey is going to be tough," Jensen said. "Two thirds of the girls on our team are seniors so we want to be giving it our best in the state tournament."
"It's going to be tough against Hersey but we are going to play as strong as we can, and try to play uptempo," added Kuzmanic, who also had 5 digs. "We have to make sure our defense is strong. They have strong hitters so we have to make sure we get to everything."
Joanna Stankowicz, Kim Voltaire, Mayra Evans, Sydney Keith and Amanda Mullin each chipped in 2 kills for Wheeling while Mullin directed the offense with 17 assists, including two nifty quick sets to Kuzmanic.
The Wildcats built a 20-12 lead in Set 2 but Waukegan, which had one win this season, fought back to within 23-20. Wheeling put the match away with a kill by the 5-foot-3 Voltaire and a match-ending blast by Keith off Jensen's perfect pass to Mullin.
Conant d. Hoffman Estates: No. 15 Conant (17-19) advanced to the semifinals of the Bartlett regional with a 25-20, 20-25, 25-18 victory over the No. 19 Hoffman as sophomore Jenn Donnell put down a match-high 18 kills. Other top attackers for the Cougars were Allie Bauch (7 kills), Michelle Lauterbach (4) and Morgan Peterson (4).
Taylor Levitt (3 aces) and Suzi Loznjakovic each had 18 assists for the Cougars who will face No. 3 Glenbard West in today's 6:30 p.m. semifinal.
Becca Stoczynski led Hoffman with 9 kills and 13 digs while Destinee Young and Becky Knapik each had 4 kills. Karina Zolp handed out 17 assists and Ali Engelhardt had 12 for Hoffman.
Elk Grove d. Willowbrook: The No. 16 Grenadiers (11-24) received 13 kills from Diamond Boyd and 8 from Krista Soesbe in a 25-21, 23-25, 25-22 triumph over No. 17 Willowbrook in the Elk Grove regional play-in match.
Christine Juhas (15 assists) and Kerry Souder (12 assists) set the offense for the Grens, who advance to today's 6:30 p.m. semifinal against top-seeded York.
Prospect d. Round Lake: No. 14 Prospect stopped No. 18 Round Lake 25-23, 25-18 in the play-in match of the Stevenson regional.
Next up for the Knights is a semifinal date with the No. 2 Stevenson today at 6:30 p.m. No. 10 Palatine faces No. 7 Mundelein in the first semifinal at 5:30 p.m.
Junior Lauren Yearian (6 kills, 2 blocks) and senior Maura Benson (5 kills, 3 blocks) led the Knights (11-19) on attack.
Senior setters Danielle Siwik (10 assists) and Shea Gallus (15 assists, 5 aces) directed the offense. Teammate Michele DiFatta collected 15 digs and was 10-of-10 serve receiving.