Going into Thursday night, Palatine's girls volleyball team hadn't won a Class AA regional crown since 2003.
The seniors on the team were in about the third grade that year.
Although they won't remember that last crown, the current Pirates gave their "Pirate Nation" fans a match to remember in the Rolling Meadows regional championship match.
"Big shout-out to our fans," said Palatine libero Casey Dolen after the Mid-Suburban West champs posted a 25-20, 16-25, 25-11 victory over No. 5 Glenbrook North. "Our fans are amazing, the best in the state."
The No. 4 Pirates (26-11) advanced to the semifinal of the Fremd sectional and will face top-seeded Stevenson (34-3) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
Dolen and Kayla Kendzior helped spark the Pirates' serve receive in Set 3
"We just fell apart with some little things in Set 2," Dolen said. "But our blocking was consistent the whole match. Our middles played outstanding."
In the middle were juniors Hannah Bridier (6 kills) and Kim Butler (3 blocks)
"I really thought they (Bridier and Butler) stepped up," said Palatine coach Dan Gavin. "We had specific things we wanted to do. We wanted them (Bridier and Butler) to neutralize their No. 12 (6-1 junior Lauren Emmert) and I thought they did."
Bridier said the team' confidence didn't diminish after the loss in Set 2.
"I know my teammates work so hard and we always pull through," she said. "We (Bridier and Butler) wanted to keep our seniors' season going. I thought it was our communication that got us going in Set 3. When we are loud and playing with a lot of energy, we are so much better."
Rightside hitter Cassie Chaplinsky (3 blocks) matched Bridier's 6 kills for Palatine while Dolen (13 digs) and Taylor Fricano (10) led the back row.
Dolen was also a force at the service line (15-of-15) where she connected for 5 aces while Sarah Schiffner was a perfect complement, going 17-of-19 with 4 aces.
Schiffner (12 assists) and Alex Heidrich (14) directed the Pirates' attack.
"We responded to adversity," Gavin said. "We struggled in the second set but we stayed patient and executed what we wanted in the third set. The girls made the correct adjustments. Our serve receive really stepped up.
"It's another goal we can check off our list. Now we move on to the sectional. At this point, every team you see is a good one."
Seeing Palatine has proven a tough task for many teams this season. The Pirates have captured their first MSL division title since 1998 and first regional crown since 2003.