This is not the time of year to take any opponent for granted. If you do, you might just see your season come to abrupt end.
Wheaton Warrenville South brought a much better record and much higher seed onto the court Monday night for the Class 4A Bolingbrook girls volleyball regional, but the 12th-seeded Tigers were not about to let No. 21 Romeoville pull off an upset. Despite a small patch of rough play in Game 1, the Tigers (16-20) swept the Spartans 25-17, 25-5 to advance to a regional semifinal Tuesday against No. 5 Lemont.
"We came into this thinking you've got to work your hardest because that's what we got to do in the playoffs regardless of who the team is," Wheaton Warrenville South senior setter/opposite Talia Holze said. "It's definitely something that you have to do. You have to keep pushing and keep getting excited. Maybe it's a slower tempo game, but you have to stay excited and keep the momentum going, and ultimately you have to play your game instead of theirs."
The Tigers took a 17-l0 lead in the opener following a Holze kill off a set by Rachel Burau, but Romeoville (3-32) scrapped and hung around, trailing just 19-15 and 22-16 before the favorites closed the game with back-to-back kills from the Rutgers-bound Holze, who had 5 of her match-high 8 kills in the opener.
With Burau sharp in the second game, Holze and Brooke Closset had plenty of clean opportunities to attack the Spartans' defense, and the second set came much easier to the Tigers, who jumped ahead 11-3 and then closed the night with a 14-2 runthat was capped by block kill from Claire Bergman.
"I think it was a little bit nerves," WW South coach Bill Schreier said. "Playoffs are a different beast for sure. No matter how much you talk about it you still have to go out on the court and play."
The Tigers coach noticed his team's play improve late in the opener, and the solid play continued in the second game.
"It was nice toward the end of the first set. We really started to get a little bit more control. We started to execute a little bit better and side out a little bit better. The passes were a little bit tighter. I enjoyed being able to get everyone in. It was really a team effort, and so everyone gets to experience it."
Lemont knocked off the Tigers earlier this year at the Wheaton Classic, but Holze is hoping her team's stronger play of late helps reverse that outcome and extend her final prep season at least one more match.
"The whole season we've won games we were supposed to win and then come close in games that we are supposed to lose," she said. "Now is the time to push over the hump. The games we're supposed to lose, we're going to win those games. That's what we're shooting for."
In Monday's first match, No. 13 Bolingbrook defeated Joliet Central 25-18, 25-14 to advance to a semifinal against No. 4 Waubonsie Valley on Tuesday night in Bolingbrook.