Waubonsie Valley left Thursday night's Class 4A Bolingbrook regional final with its first regional plaque since 2010 and a school-record 30th win and can thank one particular element of its game.
The Warriors kept their cool.
Waubonsie, seeded fourth in the Plainfield South sectional, prevailed over 12th-seeded Wheaton Warrenville South 25-16, 19-25, 25-17.
It was the team's ability to not be rattled by the Tigers'domination in Game 2 that led to the deciding victory in Game 3 and set up a 6 p.m. Plainfield South sectional semifinal Tuesday against top-seeded Benet.
"We held our composure well after that second game and kept it positive," said Waubonsie coach Kristen Stuart, whose team improved to 30-7.
The Warriors led from the beginning in the deciding game and a WW South serving error put Waubonsie up 16-8. A kill by Talia Holze pulled the Tigers (17-21) to 18-14. Waubonsie, however, was able to finish on a 7-3 run for the victory.
"We knew they would play their hears out. You don't win, you go home," said senior Rachel Minarick, who led Waubonsie with 16 kills. "Our serve receive was a little off in that second game and our passing was better in that third set and we were able to move the ball."
The Warriors led from the start in Game 1 and closed out the win on a 6-2 run. Waubonsie kept its momentum going in Game 2, leading from the start and getting the advantage back twice including the final time at 8-7 on a Becky Breuer kill. A kill by Holze tied the game at 8 and then four Waubonsie hitting errors gave WW South a 12-9 lead and the team never looked back.
A kill by Emily Pavel put the Tigers up 21-13. It was part of four straight points served by Brooke Closset, which included two straight aces by her. She led WW South with 9 kills.
"Unforced errors hurt us. We played nervous in the first set and we came back and were able to play better in the second," said Tigers coach Bill Schreier.
He said that injuries contributed to a slow start early on in the season that pulled down WW South's sectional seeding.
"You hate to see seniors go. But we're a young team and this was good experience for the players returning as to what it takes to finish the deal," he said.
Benet and Waubonsie did not play against each other during the regular season.
"It'll come down to who executes and heart," Stuart said.
The second Plainfield South sectional semifinal features Naperville North against Plainfield North and the two semifinal winners meet next Thursday for the sectional title.