The Palatine and Barrington girls volleyball teams opened the Mid-Suburban West season with a big finish on Thursday night.
After splitting the first two games, the visiting Pirates surged ahead 24-17 in Set 3.
But the Fillies, who struggled at the service line most of the match, got a beautiful string of points from Emily Watkins.
She held off 6 match points before Taylor Fricano's ninth kill gave the Pirates a nerve-wracking 25-19, 12-25, 25-23 triumph over the defending MSL champs.
"It was exciting," said Pirates senior setter Alex Heidrich, who handed out 24 assists, including the match-winner to Fricano. "I was little nervous at the end but I knew my team would pull it together."
It's a team full of veterans -- eight seniors, to be exact.
"We have an older team, and we just click," said Fricano, who has made a verbal commitment to Dayton. "We've all been in the program four years. It's amazing to play with them. They have such high character and a great desire to win. It's a great atmosphere to be in.
"This was an incredible win. Barrington is always a great team every year. We brought it, and they brought it in Set 2."
The Pirates brought it behind an attack that also included 8 kills from Val Soderstrom. And with the defense of Casey Dolen (12 digs), Fricano (11) and Cassie Chaplinsky (11).
There was the solid serving from Hannah Bridier (8-of-9, 1 ace), Chaplinsky (9-of-9, 1 ace) and Heidrich (9-of-9).
Palatine (2-0) led by as many as 6 points in Set 1 before Barrington closed to within 14-13 with 4 service points from Watkins, including an ace and kill by senior outside hitter Lauren Shectman.
But Palatine got rolling again, building a 22-15 on back-to-back kills by Bridier.
In Set 2, Barrington (2-2) jumped ahead 13-4, getting 5 consecutive points from server Shectman. The Pirates never got closer but Sarah Schiffner helped the visitors' attack toward the end of the set, coming up with a kill at set point.
"I thought Sarah came in with a lot of energy late in the second set," said Pirates coach Dan Gavin. "And that gave us a huge lift starting the third set."
The Pirates raced ahead 5-1 in the decisive set with Fricano getting 3 kills.
"Taylor had some nice swings," Gavin said. "She was a little tentative in Set 2 and so was our team, like we doubted ourselves. But in the third set, Taylor got back to the player where know she is. And I thought Lexi set a great match. She was running all over the court to set the ball."
After the Pirates got ahead 24-17 on a tip by Fricano, Watkins had the Pirates on the run.
The 5-foot-8 junior reeled off the next 6 points, getting 2 aces and a kill from Shectman along the way. Her ace made it 24-23 before Fricano put down the match-winner.
Shectman and Julia Thompson led the Fillies with 13 kills apiece while Maggie Daleen had 4 blocks and Shectman 2. Setter Claire Waliczek handed out 26 assists. The Fillies' defense was paced by Emily Casaletto (11 digs) and Shectman (10).
"Obviously, we had a rough night at the service line," said Barrington coach Rob Ridenour, whose team made 13 service errors. "But I saw a lot of good things, too. We had some good stretches of volleyball.
"It's early in the year and I thought Palatine made some great adjustments in the third set. So great job by Dan (Gavin). We've just got to try and get more consistent."
Gavin praised the Fillies.
"I think that was a real solid team on the other side of the net," he said. "This was a very solid team win, so I'm definitely pleased. But we've got a lot of work to go."