Burlington Central rolls to regional title
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GENOA -- If the Burlington Central girls volleyball team ends the season in the same place it did the last time it won a regional championship, the Rockets will be happy campers.
Exhibiting dominance from start to finish, Central rolled to a 25-15, 25-14 win over host Genoa-Kingston Thursday nigh to claim the championship of the Class 3A G-K regional.
The regional title is the Rockets' first since they finished second in the Class 3A state finals in 2008.
BC (26-11) will take on Lakes at 7 p.m. Tuesday in one semifinal of the Burlington Central sectional. Lakes defeated Grayslake Central 31-29, 25-19 Thursday to win the Lakes regional. Marian Central and Regina Dominican square off in Tuesday's 6 p.m. semifinal at Rocket Hill.
"Our serving was really strong tonight and we were focused," said Central coach Marv Leavitt, who won his third regional title at Central and 12th overall. "We just played well throughout tonight and we got on some nice runs."
Two nice runs to be exact, and each one created the separation the Rockets needed to put the Cogs away in a match that lasted just 42 minutes.
"We had the right set of mind," said Rockets' senior libero Allie O'Reilly, the Illinois-Chicago bound sparkplug who added to her school career digs record with 15 more on Thursday. "We came ready to play and we had the momentum the whole time."
While O'Reilly was doing her usual stellar job on defense, it was her serving in Game 2 that sent everyone home early.
Trailing 5-4 in Game 2, a kill from senior Caiti Siebert tied the game and sent O'Reilly to the service line. Before she would leave the line, and even after G-K coach Keith Foster called two timeouts, the Rockets led 18-5 and all that was left was to get to 25 and hoist the championship plaque. A tip kill from junior Maddy Barry, with O'Reilly serving her 15th point of the match, closed out the Cogs.
"It feels good to have that safety net," said O'Reilly of the big lead. "That way you can relax and just play."
The same thing propelled the Rockets in Game 1. With the game tied 2-2, junior Lauren Wiltsie took over serve for the Rockets and ran them out to an 8-2 advantage. The Cogs (16-18) never got closer than 4 points the rest of the way. Junior Maddy Barry served the final 3 points, using two Genoa errors to finish the game.
"Those runs changed each game," said Leavitt, whose team beat Genoa for the third time this season. "Our defense was really strong tonight and our serving really came through."
When the Rockets weren't dazzling the crowd from the service line, their hitting was. Senior Jenna Schudel led the way with 6 kills and 2 blocks, while Wiltise had 4 kills and 4 aces and senior Makenna Jensen added 4 kills and 3 blocks.
"We just wanted it so bad," said Schudel. "We had motivation on our side."
Leavitt also lauded the play of his back row. Juniors Jenna Runde and Aly DeTamble each had 9 digs for the Rockets.
"They made some key plays to help those runs continue," Leavitt said.
And now it's on to sectional play for the Rockets on their home court.
"This is a team that set some good goals," Leavitt said. "They wanted a conference championship and a regional championship and we're just checking them off right now. It gets fun now. It doesn't get any easier but it's fun."
Fun the Rockets hope lasts, like in 2008, all the way to Redbird Arena.
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