Like a finely-tuned machine, the Harvest Christian girls volleyball team just keeps rolling along.
Continuing its postseason dominance, the Lions dismantled Little Ten Conference champion Newark 25-17, 25-9 Tuesday night in the second semifinal of the Class 1A Harvest Christian sectional at the Mitchell Swaback Athletic Center.
Harvest Christian (27-11) will try to make it a sectional 3-peat Thursday at 7 p.m. when it takes on St. Francis de Sales for the sectional championship. de Sales defeated North Shore Country Day 25-21, 25-12 in Tuesday's first semifinal.
Thursday's winner takes a short trip south on Randall Road for the 6 p.m. Saturday Westminster Christian supersectional, where the opponent will be either Keith Country Day or Stockton, which square off Thursday for the Pearl City sectional title. The Lions, who have now won 10 of their last 11, were eliminated in the supersectional round by Keith last year, and they've lost twice to KCD this season.
But the way Harvest is playing right now, the Lions are going to be tough to beat, especially with a sizable Elgin crowd behind them as it was Tuesday.
"It's been a total team effort," said Lions' coach Kim Floyd. "Everybody has to contribute to be a great volleyball team and we've been working on making a threat from every position."
That was evident Tuesday. Freshman middle Mikayla Robinson led the way with 8 kills while senior standout Sydney Doby had 6 kills, 5 digs and 2 blocks. Sophomore right side Ellie Burzlaff added 4 kills, and the defense was led by 7 digs from senior Chloe Corbett, who also had 2 aces. Sophomore Allie Frantz added 4 aces and senior first-year setter Jade Martinez dished out 18 assists.
"I have a great front row," said Martinez, who was the Lions' libero last year. "I always tell them I'm not that great a setter but you gu\ys are great hitters and they've helped me a lot all year in my new position."
Tuesday's first set was close early and Newark (27-7) led10-8 when a Burzlaff kill gave the Lions and Frantz the serve. Two aces and a Doby kill later, Harvest had a 12-9 advantage and Newark could never catch up.
Leading 15-12, the Lions got the serve back on one of numerous Newark errors in the match. Corbett served out to a 20-12 lead and the Lions eventually won the game on a Newark hitting error.
Frantz stepped to the line with Harvest leading 8-5 in Game 2 and before Newark would get the serve back the Lions led 15-5. Harvest got the serve right back and Burzlaff served it out to 21-6. A strong combined block by Doby and Robinson ended the match and sent the Lions to Thursday's championship.
"Volleyball is a game of runs and you want to be the one controlling that," Floyd said.
To Doby, having Robinson and Burzlaff in the front row has been a big bonus for the Lions.
"We have a lot more options than we had before," said Doby, the Grand Valley State recruit who admitted her own game was a bit off Tuesday. "I struggled today but it's nice to be able to depend on other people. We're much more rounded this year."
Floyd sees that as well, and it has in large part to do with the emergence of the 6-foot Robinson.
"Mikayla has really stepped up," Floyd said. "That first kill tonight was a statement. We tell her we want to see the ball bounce. She's made a huge difference."