All Harvest Christian's girls volleyball team needed to advance to Thursday's sectional final and dispose of Chicagoland Jewish was 30 minutes. And hard serving.
That was it. The pregame warm-ups felt longer. It was so quick and so lethal that some of the girls had time to take on the boys from Harvest's fan section in a noisy, pickup game that actually seemed more competitive and intense afterward.
But when it actually counted, Harvest was on with its serves and on the scoreboard.
Four Lions combined for 22 aces alone, a trend that might have provided a lot of floor burns for the Tigers, as No. 1 seed Harvest Christian easily advanced to its own Class 1A sectional final with a resounding 25-6, 25-3 win Tuesday night in Elgin.
Harvest, in just its second year of IHSA sports competition, will get a chance to win back-to-back sectional titles Thursday at 7.p.m. against Morgan Park Academy, which defeated Luther North 25-12, 25-12. The winner gets a spot in the Lanark Eastland supersectional on Saturday against the winner of the Polo sectional, either Keith Country Day or Stockton.
"I just knew I had to get my serve over and keep going and not try to ace every time " said Lions' junior Sydney Doby, who had 6 aces and 5 kills. "It's always a plus when you ace (but we were) just going for the open zones and keeping the game going."
Keeping up a fast pace was one other thing Harvest (30-5) did well. There weren't many stoppages in Game 1 and with the Lions on serve throughout, they jumped out to an 8-2 lead. Doby didn't stop serving until Erica Manusos' kill attempt went into the net to make it 19-3 Harvest. All of Doby's aces came during that run. Game 1 ended on an 11-1 run capped by Katelyn Floyd, who had a team-high 7 aces and 16 assists. In Game 2, she served for 12-straight points, to make a 2-2 tie a 12-3 Harvest lead. Chloe Corbett helped fuel a 12-0 run on all 7 aces she recorded and Manusos' power kill on match point concluded matters. Chicagoland Jewish (12-8) served only 9 times and scored their 8 of its 9 points on Harvest errors.
"We just had fun out there," Corbett said. "Every practice we work on serve consistency and that something I've been really working on this season, it was nice to get that many serves. Everyone had really good serves, I think we missed one."
"There was two," Lions coach Kim Floyd said. "Our goal is being able to miss one or less serves a game."
Masters of their own destiny, Harvest can now focus on Morgan Park, a team the Lions defeated earlier this season. With that in hand and last season's success, Harvest has all the confidence to repeat as champs with that elusive Final Four berth getting closer.
"Some people are like, 'who are you, where did you come from, how long have you been playing, et cetera, et cetera,' " Kim Floyd said. "We're a better team this year than last year. Our blocking game is better. Our coverage is better. All around it's better this year."