In a match this close, it had to be a senior to decide it.
The 12th-grader in this case was Warren's Jamie Dickinson.
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On paper, it was Warren team that hadn't won a regional since 2005 against a Grayslake North squad that had 24 losses to report.
But on the court Thursday, both squads played nip and tuck the entire way before Dickinson (13 kills) decided to take matters into her own hands. She finished the third set with back-to-back kills as Warren (20-17) simply outlasted a gutsy Knights team 23-25, 25-20, 26-24 to capture the Grayslake North regional title.
In its first sectional appearance in seven years, Warren will report to the Jacobs sectional on Tuesday to play Prairie Ridge at 6 p.m.
"We were all a little nervous to start with," Dickinson said. "But we all finally decided to step up. At the beginning of the season, we thought we might win a regional and we accomplished it."
The third and deciding set three couldn't have been much closer. Warren led 12-10 following kills from Dickinson and fellow senior Paige Jesperson. North (13-25) rallied to tie this contest at 16-16 following back-to-back kills from another senior, Melanie Aiken.
"We knew they were scrappy," said Warren coach Julie Filippo of Grayslake North. "They played very well. We knew their gun was No. 19 (Joanna Guhl) and she did great."
It was anyone's match during the final plays. A Guhl kill gave the Knights a 24-23 lead before Dickinson took over the contest.
"That was Jamie's best game ever," Filippo said.
It was Warren playing catch-up in the first set. And then Dickinson put down two more kills to pull her Blue Devils within a single point at 24-23. A block kill from North middle blocker Alaina Geissberger ended the set.
"I don't think we look like a 13-25 team," said North coach Nikki Kirchway. "I'm so proud of these girls. They peaked at the right time."
Early in the second set, it looked like the underdog Knights might take out the Blue Devils quickly. North's 6-foot setter Lisa Lowry served five straight points at the Devils, and the Knights were off and running. A block from Warren's Kendall Farmer gave Warren its first lead of the second set at 12-11.
Warren still trailed until the third senior on Warren's team went into serve. Danielle Buschick put Warren ahead to stay aided by kills from Stephanie Karlovicks and Rachel Ziegler. Both Lisiann Rodriguez and Ziegler fired off aces to close off the set.
Helping out Dickinson on offense were Farmer (6 kills), Karlovicks (5 kills), Jesperson (5 kills) and Buschick (5 kills). Setters Ziegler and Haley Mazurik both notched 13 assists. Jesperson led Warren on defense with 15 digs.
North graduates six seniors from this late-charging team. That includes Guhl who paced the Knights in kills on this night with 10. Another senior, Aiken, had 7 kills, and a third senior, Kelsey Klausner, had 5 kills and 16 digs. Lowry, in her last match at North, notched 24 assists. Also graduating for the Knights are Kelly Casey, Rylee Venn and Brittany Greig.
Sophomore libero Stefani Keilwitz led the North defense with 18 digs. Geissberger, a junior, had 3 blocks.