The 41st edition of the Mid-Suburban League girls volleyball championship match brought together its most frequent visitors.
Host Barrington and Hersey have a combined 34 appearances in the annual showcase event and were tied with most wins (10 apiece) when the match started.
Using stellar defense and timely offense, the Fillies won their 11th title and second in three years under coach Rob Ridenour with a 25-19, 25-15 triumph on Thursday night.
"It feels amazing," said Fillies standout senior setter and MSL West Player of the Year Claire Waliczek. "It feels even more special because I wasn't as much a part of it my sophomore year. It makes all the hard work we do every day worth it."
As usual, the Fillies got their money's worth from Waliczek, who not only handed out 17 assists but also had 5 digs and kept the Huskies' defense on its toe because of her potential to put down a kill at any time (she has close to 90 this season)."
Game 1 was tied at 6-6 when senior Christy Roney put down her first of 7 kills to give the hosts the lead for good. Roney was hardly through as she stepped to the service line and reeled off back-to-back aces before a kill by Megan Talbot made it 10-6.
Moments later, Waliczek set senior Emily Watkins for a kill and 11-7 lead. The Fillies went on to extend the advantage to 19-10 on a kill by senior Sarah Berggren.
Senior Emily Casaletto played a key role igniting the Barrington offense with her 11 digs.
"Honestly, it was all the defense," Watkins said. "Emily leads us in defense and Claire runs a great offense. They're just great leaders for us."
Talbot was the leader in kills for the Fillies with eight while Berggren added 3. Sophomore Katie Clement and classmate Talbot each had a block.
"Megan has been improving all season and tonight she led us with kills," Ridenour said. "And she did a great job at the net. She didn't block a lot of balls, but she took away a lot of their shots."
Barrington (19-16) came out with its best shot in Game 2, opening up a 10-3 lead on back-to-back aces by Roney.
Hersey (18-12) battled back to 11-7 with a kill by Megan Solans -- but that's as close as the 11-time defending MSL East champs would get.
Talbot had 3 kills in a span of 6 points, giving Barrington a 21-14 lead.
A block by Clement made it 23-14. Junior Jess Terrill's kill got the game to match point before a hitting error ended it.
"Jess saw a lot of playing time this past weekend and played great offense," Ridenour said. "She gives us another option and she plays with confidence."
Hersey coach Nancy Lill said the Huskies did not play as well under pressure as the Fillies.
"I knew the team that could play with composure under pressure would win," Lill said. "Barrington was that team.
"Their passing and defense took us out of our offense. Props to Barrington. We had uncharacteristic errors across the board and that's jitters."
Junior Courtney Stedman had 5 kills and 6 assists for the Huskies while sophomore Liz Fuerst put down 4 kills.
Carly Pisano handed out 5 assists and Caity Strozewski 2. Katie Krebs paced the back row with 11 digs and Solans had 9.
"We battled, we tried," Lill added "We just couldn't get to them when we got behind. But it's a learning experience. We're a young team and will learn from our mistakes. These girls are hungry. We'll be back."
The only starter back for Barrington from its 2011 championship team is Casaletto, who made a perfect dig which set up Terrill's kill for the Fillies' penultimate point.
"We identify ourselves as a good defensive team and we did that this match," Casaletto said. "We never gave up at any point of the match."
The Fillies are 9-15 in matches outside the conference this season, playing one of the toughest tourney schedules in the area.
"That helped us a lot to prepare for big matches," said Watkins, one of 10 seniors on the Fillies' roster. "We've been getting better and better because of it."
"Coach 'R' is a great coach because he put us in tough tournaments," Casaletto said. "He knew that would help us when it came to end of the season."
Ridenour liked the way the regular season ended on Thursday.
"We played real solid when you look at our stats," he said. "Every single category was good and that's why I am really proud of the girls. They played good, steady volleyball."
"The stats tell the story," said Lill, who team was without the services of key junior outside hitter Kelly Hill (shoulder). Our hitting for the team was negative and that was because of our passing. They served us aggressively (Roney had 4 aces and Casaletto 3) and took us out of our offense.
"The game becomes very easy for Barrington when you make so many unforced errors."