The Providence Catholic girls volleyball team came into St. Viator's Cahill Gymnasium with an impressive record of 20 wins.
The Celtics were impressive again, reaching 21 victories on Thursday night -- but the Lions made the visitors from New Lenox work hard to the final point of Set 3.
A kill by senior co-captain Alyssa Maloney finally gave Providence a 25-20, 20-25, 25-20 triumph in the East Suburban Catholic match which began by honoring the Lions' Beth Romano (defensive specialist), Caroline Young (libero) and Miranda Gall (manager) for senior night.
"It was great," Romano said of the pre-match celebration. "We (seniors) really appreciated that."
The Lions also showed their appreciation for their junior teammate Sara Lopez, who put down 3 kills and an ace before injuring her ankle with the Lions leading 24-20 in Set 2.
After a brief delay, Lopez was taken to the training room and came out during Set 3 to sit on the bench with her teammates.
"I'm glad her father (Eugene, an orthopedic surgeon) is a doctor," said Lions coach Charlie Curtin. "He was able to give us a quick analysis."
And the analysis was looking good.
"At first, I thought it was broken but it turned out to be a sprain," Lopez said. "I can't wait for practice again and to try and win our next match."
After Lopez left, the Lions won Set 2 by getting the next point on a kill by junior Megan Mueller, who had 11 kills along with 4 aces and 13 digs.
"That was rough (Lopez leaving floor)," Romano said. "We just wanted to keep our energy up and do it for Sara."
Curtin liked the way Kristen Abrahamson (3 kills, 7 digs) stepped up when Lopez had to leave.
"Kristen played well," he said, "but it's hard to get used to running an offense a certain way and then having to adjust going into a pivotal Set 3."
Two kills by Abrahamson lifted Viator (15-19, 3-5) to a 3-1 lead in the decisive set.
"It was high-pressure," said Young, who had 11 digs. "We were trying to win it for Sara.
"We've got the regional coming up in two weeks and we've got to keep working on the same things. We're not the tallest team so we have to play good defense."
Sophomore Michelle Trovato (6 digs) made a great defensive play when she dug a smash by Krista Brakauskas. It led up to a nifty kill by setter Molly Ziegler (6 kills, 27 assists, 4 digs) and gave the Lions a 10-9 lead in Set 3.
The final set was tied six times before the Celtics took the lead for good at 18-7. They led 20-17 but Viator got to within 21-20 on a service point by Romano.
However, Mahoney put down a kill and Brakauskas served out the match for Providence (21-7, 4-4).
"We are more motivated when we play good teams like Providence," Romano said.
"We played hard from the beginning of the match," said Curtin, whose club also received 7 kills and 1 block from junior middle hitter Mary Cleary. "They got the best of us at the end but I am proud of how our girls fought for every point."