Addison Trail's girls passed around the championship plaque, each penning their name to the back.
This was a signature win to share in.
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The Blazers beat two-time defending tournament champion West Chicago 25-23, 15-25, 25-17 to win Saturday's Willowbrook Invite in Villa Park.
Addison Trail (5-2) was beaten soundly by West Chicago in regionals last year, and dropped a tough three-setter to the Wildcats in Friday pool play after being up a set.
No denying the Blazers this time.
"Every year we come into the gym and think West Chicago is going to come and sweep us and that we don't have a chance," said Blazers senior Sabrina Muell. "Today it was about representing our name, showing what we're made of. We're not the biggest or strongest team, but we came through."
First-year Addison Trail head coach Dan Styler relished watching his girls celebrate an affirmation of their grueling offseason work.
"This is uncharted territory for us," Styler said. "We won this match in June, July and August. The girls made a commitment to get in the weight room and play more and just touch the ball more. They really bought in. This is a great indicator that it paid off."
Addison Trail never trailed in either the first or third set. The Blazers jumped out to an 11-4 lead in the decisive third set on kills by Viviana Hernandez and Muell. The advantage eventually bulged to 23-10 after an ace by freshman Nina Capuani and two West Chicago hitting errors.
The Wildcats momentarily stalled Addison Trail's victory with a 6-0 run capped by a Karissa Chernick ace, but the Blazers got to match point on a West Chicago service error. A kill by Katie Dzaibis, the Blazers tallest starter at 5-foot-8, finished things off.
"We have no choice -- we have to start off strong," Muell said, "otherwise we can't finish. Finishing is our problem but we did it today."
West Chicago (5-1) dug itself too many holes to dig out of and hope to three-peat. The Wildcats committed five straight errors early in the first set -- whistled in the net four times. Eight of Addison's first 13 points in the third came off errors, and a few West Chicago service errors thwarted a comeback.
"We missed seven serves," West Chicago coach Kris Hasty said. "It just felt like at crucial teams when we needed a point, we gave it away. I just felt like we didn't bring the energy we should have in a championship match. It's a new team. We're still feeling each other out."
Muell, who had 8 kills, 10 digs and 2 aces, gave her team an energy boost in the first set. The 5-7 outside, one of just three Addison seniors, had 3 kills and an ace in the first 10 points of the match. Muell was effective affacking from the net and back row, a back-row kill off the block giving the Blazers set point in the first.
"Sabrina sees the block really well," Styler said. "Bar none, she sees the block better than anybody. She's not the tallest player but she compensates by being an aggressive swinger and reading the blocks well."
Hernandez had 5 kills, Christina Capuani 21 assists, Devin Fruzyna 14 digs and Crystal Marinelli 9 digs for the Blazers. Andrea Skipor, Nora Palermo and Deven Orr each had 5 kills and Mary Kate Katarzynski 22 assists for West Chicago.
Glenbard North beat Willowbrook 22-25, 25-11, 25-23 for third place. Becca Sullivan had 9 kills and 8 digs for Willowbrook in the match. Wheaton Warrenville South (4-2), a disappointing 1-2 in pool play with two losses, came back to beat Larkin and then Coal City 25-15, 25-16 for fifth. Stephanie Budlong had 7 kills and 5 digs, Weber 5 kills and Maggie Dansdill 4 blocks for the Tigers against Coal City.
"We had the lead in all those games Friday and match point in all those games. It's frustrating," WW South coach Bill Schreier said. "It's just the learning curve. We'll get better because of it, there's no doubt about that."