The Halloween party they called the Class 1A Harvest Christian regional girls volleyball championship Thursday night at the Mitchell Swaback Athletic Center in Elgin was more of a trick for No. 2 Westminster Christian, and a treat once again for the two-time defending regional champion and top-seeded hosts.
The Warriors (21-12-3) came out of the gates strong, splitting the first 18 points with the Lions, giving Harvest all it could handle in the onset.
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But from that point on, after Harvest coach Kim Floyd and assistant Kevin Sauer called for time and gave the squad a little chin music, the hitting duo of senior Sydney Doby (who was under the weather) and freshman Mikayla Robinson seemed to answer the bell and remind Harvest of who it really is.
Doby and Robinson dominated the front line for 19 kills in the Lions' 25-11, 25-9 regional title win over their west side Elgin neighbors. Harvest (26-11), a three-time regional winner, will advance to play Newark Tuesday at 7 p.m. in a sectional semifinal hosted by the Lions. North Shore Country Day takes on St. Francis de Sales in the 6 p.m. semifinal.
Doby, a Grand Valley State recruit, led the way with 11 kills, 2 digs, an ace and a block while Robinson totaled 8 kills and 2 blocks. Libero Jade Martinez had 22 assists and 4 digs while Ellie Burzlaff had 4 kills and 3 digs. Senior Chloe Corbett added 8 digs, 3 kills and 3 aces for the Lions.
Westminster junior middle Savannah Dutcher notched 8 kills and 3 assists to lead the Warriors and Claire Speweik added 5 kills and 3 assists.
Once the Lions came out of the timeout and grabbed a 10-9 lead on a Robinson kill they never looked back, winning 40 out of the next 51 points.
"I basically told them to settle down and just play," Floyd said. "It was 9-9 and it was 25-11. I'm super proud of my team and they played very hard and gave it their all and took care of business quickly."
"(Sauer) gave us a verbal beatdown and made us straighten up," Doby said. "And we went back out there knowing we were a better team, knowing we weren't playing out best and then once we got a couple kills under our belt then we really didn't have a problem going on from there."
Three points later Martinez set up Robinson again for a power spike to make it 13-9 and Doby put a little more on a kill to make it 15-10. It was in the midst of 8-straight points by Harvest that swung all the momentum away from Warriors.
"As soon as it switches a little bit that team just runs with it," Warriors coach Kathy Ramos said of Harvest. "They definitely have some strong hitters, they are a good team, a very good team."
Harvest, which reached the Elite Eight the last two years, ended Game 1 on a 15-2 run and began Game 2 right where it left off, jumping out to a 13-2 advantage. Robinson had 3 kills and a block in the run.
"She takes the pressure off (Sydney) and the rest of the team by just getting up for one big kill," Floyd said. "She's a great kid, coachable, exclamation point about 10 million times. You tell her what to do, instruct her and she does it exactly."
Doby has been Robinson's mentor of sorts and it's definitely taken a little bit of the pressure off her as both have fit together seamlessly as the year has gone on.
"It's nice having another hitter to depend on. It's really nice to tell my setter 'set her' knowing she going to be able to get a kill for our team, knowing even if I'm on the back line there's a possibility to get a great, loud kill," Doby said of Robinson.
"She's giving me a lot of good tips," Robinson said of Doby. "Jump high, swing hard and just try to pass the ball correctly and learning how to set."