The drive from Harvest Christian Academy to Westminster Christian is one half-mile.
The distance between the two volleyball teams from the Elgin private schools Thursday night, though, was much greater.
Harvest Christian, which advanced to the Elite Eight last season, showed it has a return trip to at least that level and then some on its mind as the Lions dominated Westminster 25-10, 25-14 in the championship match of the Class 1A Westminster regional.
The Lions (29-8) won’t have to leave their own campus next week as they attempt to win their second sectional title in the school’s second year of IHSA competition. Harvest will take on Chicagoland Jewish in the 7 p.m. sectional semifinal at Harvest Christian on Tuesday. Luther North meets either Morgan Park Academy or St. Francis de Sales in the 6 p.m. semi with the winners returning Thursday for the championship and a berth in the Lanark Eastland supersectional next Saturday.
“Our ultimate goal is state and winning state,” said Lions junior Sydney Doby, who had 4 kills, 3 assists and 6 aces in Thursday’s win. “We play it game-by-game and point-by-point but getting to state is in the back of our minds all the time.”
Most coaches might temper their players from those thoughts, but Harvest coach Kim Floyd echoes her players’ wishes.
“Our goals are high and this is just one step to an ultimate goal,” Floyd said. “We want to get downstate.”
The Lions left little doubt about their determination Thursday. In front of a raucous crowd hat favored the visitors, Harvest bolted out to a 6-2 lead in Game 1 then, ahead 7-5, used an 11-0 run with Doby at the service line to put the game out of reach. The 6-foot-4 Doby jump-served 4 of her aces in the run.
“I’ve really concentrated on my placement,” Doby said. “My coaches have given me feedback and so many people are feeding into me. It’s not just me.”
“She puts the ball where she wants,” said Floyd. “She can put it exactly where she wants it consistently and with power.”
Westminster battled but the Lions were just too powerful. A 4-hit violation on the Warriors (21-9) made it a 22-10 Harvest lead and senior Sarah Kott served and ace and then used a tip kill from freshman Ellie Burzlaff and a kill from junior Chloe Corbett to close out the first game.
Game 2 also had little suspense. After a 2-2 tie early, Kott served the Lions out to a 10-2 advantage and they never looked back. At 7-2, Westminster had to figure it wasn’t its night when the Warriors gave up a point on a ball that fell to the court off a beam in the ceiling.
Harvest secured its regional title when senior Jordan Sollars slammed home match point.
“It was a little nerve-wracking being on their home court but our fans are so dedicated. They love us and they love the game,” said Sollars, who had 6 kills, 4 digs and 3 assists.
Corbett added 4 kills and Kott had 3 aces for the Lions. Katelyn Floyd contributed 11 assists, while Shayna Manusos and Jade Martinez each had 8 digs.
“We served aggressively and that was our game plan,” said Kim Floyd. “It worked well.”
Junior Claire Speweik had 4 kills to lead the Warriors.
“Harvest is a good team,” said Westminster coach Kathy Ramos. “I told my girls they can still be proud of themselves. They lost to a good team. They never gave up right to game point. When (Harvest) got those runs on us it was hard to catch up. They’ve got powerful servers. But no matter the score, our kids stayed pumped up and they never gave up.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.