No lead is completely safe, as Glenbard South has found out the hard way this season.
The Raiders didn't let history repeat itself Thursday.
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Big leads dwindled in both sets, but Glenbard South hung on in both to beat Timothy Christian 27-25, 25-21 in Glen Ellyn and forge a split with the Trojans for the Metro Suburban Conference championship.
Glenbard South (21-9, 10-2), conference champ for the second time in three years, saw big leads go by the wayside in losses to Batavia and West Aurora. Not Thursday, in its biggest match of the year.
"We kind of learned from our experiences, that you have to figure out how to finish," Glenbard South senior Jane Trzaska said. "When the other team is coming back you have to take a deep breath, everybody come together and finish it out."
Tarah Valdez had 12 kills and Trzaska 7 kills with 8 digs for the Raiders -- including kills at match point and perhaps the two biggest points of the match.
Glenbard South watched a 24-19 lead in the first set vanish, Kacie Stoll's kill off an overpass pushing the Trojans (26-9, 10-2) to set point up 25-24. Trzaska responded with a booming kill to get back serve, and with Trzaska at the line Valdez drove in a kill and Stoll hit one long for set point.
"It definitely gives you an adrenaline rush," Trzaska said. "You try to carry that momentum over."
The Raiders held a seemingly commanding 21-11 advantage in the second after a Valdez kill, but a Jenna Lodewyk dump shot ignited a 6-1 Trojans run. Trzaska stopped the bleeding with a kill for a 23-17 lead and moments later went high to put down match point.
"I don't like the fact that we gave up those runs tonight," Glenbard South coach Chad Grant said, "but I'll take a win anyway I can get it. Timothy Christian, they're good."
Bridgitt Buikema had 11 kills and Stoll 9 for defending conference champ Timothy Christian. Glenbard South, though, did well in float-serving short to not allow the Trojans to run their middle Stoll. Stoll had 14 kills in the teams' first meeting, a three-set Trojans win.
Colleen Cooney, who had 3 aces to go with her 10 digs, set the tone with the short-serve early in the first set, when Glenbard South jumped out to a 7-1 lead.
"We've been working on serves a lot in practice," Trzaska said. "Short or long, we served exactly where we wanted to go tonight."
All and all, Grant saw a different team than that first match in Elmhurst.
"Losing that first match, they weren't very happy about it," Grant said. "This is the first time I've seen this team like this all season. At practice yesterday I noticed that something was different. That's what we've been looking for. If we can play like that in regionals good things will happen."
Lodewyk had 25 assists and Hanna Markewycz 11 digs for Timothy Christian. Trojans coach Lindsey VanSchepen agreed that the Raiders' short-serving slowed her team.
"We didn't adjust very well to that short serve," VanSchepen said. "We knew it was coming. We went up and down a little bit too much with our energy level. We came back in the end of both games. If we would have had that consistency throughout the match it might have been closer. You can't dig yourself a hole like that."