Some wins feel a little different than others.
You could put Wednesday night's win into the euphoric category for St. Charles East's girls volleyball team.
That's because the Saints' 16-25, 25-20, 25-18 nonconference victory came against 2-time defending Class 4A state champion Benet Academy (17-2) before an energetic home crowd in St. Charles.
While snapping the Redwings' 9-match winning streak, St. Charles East (14-4) handed the visitors a rare loss of any kind considering the fact that Benet has compiled a 96-7 record over the past 2-plus seasons.
"When you think of Benet, you think of an amazing program," said senior setter Carly Jimenez, who recorded 27 assists, 16 digs, 2 kills and a block. "This is huge for us. My cheeks hurt -- I'm smiling so much."
After dropping the opening game and falling behind 9-4 in Game 2, smiling was about the last thing Saints coach Jennie Kull was thinking about as she called a timeout.
"They (the girls) weren't playing tough in the first game or early in the second game," said Kull. "They were not taking the swings they needed to and not being aggressive like they needed to be. During the timeout, I just reminded them and they started to figure it out."
Senior outside hitter Dana Voltolina sparked an 8-2 run with 3 of her match-high 14 kills and a crosscourt kill by junior Meagan Smith (7 kills, 4 digs) gave the Saints their first lead of Game 2 at 12-11.
A put-away by junior Megan Schildmeyer (6 kills, 13 digs, 2 blocks) helped the Saints open a 24-17 lead. Benet survived 3 game points before another Schildmeyer kill sent the home crowd into a frenzy -- and the match into a decisive third game.
"All the fans that were here -- that was huge for us," said Kull.
Back-to-back aces from junior Mikaela Mosquera (3 kills, 10 digs, 3 blocks) snapped a 4-4 deadlock in Game 3 before the Saints took charge with a 9-3 surge that turned a 12-10 lead into a 22-14 advantage.
The left-handed hitting Voltolina keyed the run with a pair of kills while junior defensive specialist Chloe Rojas (5 digs) had 1 of her 2 aces and sophomore middle hitter Sydney Urban added a dump kill.
"Hitting crosscourt didn't work for me so I started hitting down the line and it seemed to work," said Voltolina.
"Dana was huge," said Kull. "I'm so proud of her. She has really come on and is doing some great things."
Back-to-back blocks, an ace from Juliana Melby and a kill by sophomore Tiffany Clark (5 kills) pulled the Redwings within 22-18 before the Saints scored the last 3 points, capped by a match-clinching ace from libero Anne Hughes (21 digs).
"That's one of our strengths," Kull said of her team's serving. "When it's off, it's off but tonight it was on."
Senior defensive specialist Emily Vitel added 12 digs for the Saints.
"To lose that first game and to come back from that deficit and truly finishing, I think is a huge step forward for us," said Kull. "It's nice that they're not afraid of any team.
"We talked about this all season -- about making things happen and getting after it," added the coach.
Rachael Fara and Whitney Battoe had 6 and 5 kills, respectively, for the Redwings while Stephanie Sinnappan added 24 assists.
"They were able to pass the ball extremely well," Benet coach Brad Baker said of the Saints. "It's a good lesson for us. You're going to have matches when you lose momentum but as a team you've got to stay focused and get that momentum back. We weren't able to do that tonight."