Stevenson living in the moment
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Third-seeded Stevenson came into the Buffalo Grove Class AA girls volleyball regional with an impressive 28-7 record compiled during the regular season.
But that was the farthest thing from the Patriots' minds during a 25-21, 25-16 victory over No. 14 Conant in Tuesday's semifinal.
"We don't have time to dwell on the past," said Pats senior standout Khaila Donaldson, who put down a match-high 13 kills. "It's just playing as hard as you can to 25 points every game."
The Pats' (29-7) will now prepare for their next test, a 6 p.m. date on Thursday against No. 11 Buffalo Grove (18-18) to settle the championship of the six-team regional.
The Patriots and Cougars were tied eight times in Game 1 before Stevenson gradually pulled away at the end. Nursing a 22-21 lead, the Pats received kills from Julia Osmond, Kara Maleski and Donaldson to put away the first game.
Game 2 was tied 9-9 when the Pats used a 3-point run to take control.
An ace by Donaldson put the Pats ahead 16-11 and Conant (18-19) never got closer than 4 points.
It marked the final match as Conant's head coach for Hall of Famer Peggy Scholten, who is retiring after a 37-year career running the program.
"I'm very proud of my girls," Scholten said. "They are not hanging their heads. Thee know they played against a great team."
Donaldson had a great attacking night and was supported by Grace Duffy (6 kills), Osmond (4) and Maleski (4). Alexa Bykowski got them the ball, collecting 24 assists while Peyton Bykowski and Donaldson each had 9 digs.
"We were able to neutralize everyone but No. 9 (Donaldson)," Scholten said. "She was a key to their success. After that, we did a nice job stoping their hitters. They served tough."
The Pats served for 7 aces, three by Jori Radtke.
"Serving is always an important facet of our game," Radtke said. "Our energy and intensity was a big part of this match.
"Their No. 7 (Jenn Donnell) was unreal. She did awesome. But we stayed with it digging."
Donnell, who finished a standout four-year varsity career with 7 kills, also was 12-of-12 serve receiving and had 1 block.
Donnell and Donaldson play on the same Rolling Thunder club team.
"I have teammates from club on every high school team we play in the state tournament," Donaldson said. "It's always fun to play against them."
Donnell and the Cougars finished at 18-19 and were second in the Mid-Suburban West.
"We stayed with them (Stevenson) in Game 1," Donnell said. "We had a harder time in Game 2.
"But it was a great season. "What's great is that we're a team made up of all friends and that's something a lot of teams don't have.
"Then reason we are sad is not because our team is not playing any more but because we are not playing on the same team any more."
Dee Dee Durr (9-of-9) and Elisa Ambrose (7-of-7) each had an ace for the Cougars while Alyssa Wachal was 5-of-5. Daniele Sortino had 2 blocks while Sarah Manczko, Wachal each had 1.
Also recording aces for the Patriots were Donaldson (2), Nikki Zarytsky (1) and Osmond (1).
"I thought our serving was aggressive as the match went on," said Patriots coach Tim Crow. "We were getting the ball in front of people and were able to string points together that way. Their ball control went down a little and we were able to take advantage."
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