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updated: 11/17/2013 8:41 AM

IC Catholic claims Class 2A volleyball crown

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  • Left to right, Kimmy Martino, Delaney D'Amore and Rory Manion of IC Catholic hold up the trophy after beating Edwards County for the Class 2A championship in girls state volleyball on Saturday in Normal.

       Left to right, Kimmy Martino, Delaney D'Amore and Rory Manion of IC Catholic hold up the trophy after beating Edwards County for the Class 2A championship in girls state volleyball on Saturday in Normal.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer


NORMAL -- The old saying goes if you wait long enough, good things will eventually happen.

And 29 years since it happened last, IC Catholic is once again a state girls volleyball champion.

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Not waiting as long as they did in Friday's semifinals to get their game rolling, the Knights dominated from start to finish Saturday afternoon, beating previously undefeated Albion Edwards County 25-15, 25-19 in the Class 2A state title game at Redbird Arena.

The state championship is the third for IC and 39th-year coach Jean Field. The Knights won Class A state crowns in 1981 and 1984 and last brought home state hardware in 1989 when they were third. This was their first trip back to state since 1993 when they lost in the quarterfinals.

"Amazing. Words can't describe it," said Field, who now has 885 career wins. "It's unbelievable. It's something we thought was possible at the beginning of the year and now it's here. We knew we'd have a rough time getting past Dakota (sectional semifinals) and Deer Creek (Friday's semifinals) but we were pretty battle tested and we were confident in what we were doing."

The Knights' senior triangle of Rory Manion, Delaney D'Amore and Kimmy Martino may never have been better than they were on Saturday. D'Amore had 11 kills and 7 digs, Manion 10 kills and 9 digs and Martino 25 assists.

"I'm speechless," said an emotional D'Amore, whose mother, Nancy, played for Field on the 1984 title team and is now a Knights' assistant coach. "To be able to do what (her mom) did 29 years ago is just amazing. I couldn't ask for anything more."

Manion was the dominant force of the Class 2A tournament. She followed up Friday's 16-kill performance by establishing IC's aggressive game Saturday, first from the service line, then from the net. She served IC's first 6 points and the Knights (36-6) never looked back.

"We knew we had to come out strong and powerful," Manion said. "We just kept pushing."

The early lead allowed Martino to use all her options.

"It makes it so much easier," Martino said. "We had great passes today and anywhere I put the ball they can put if down."

The Knights, who won the first set on an error by Edwards County (41-1) and then the match on a D'Amore kill, outhit the Lions .253-. 113. Claudia Koch and Hannah Hartnett each added 4 kills for IC and Kerry Mulligan had 8 digs.

"IC had a lot of defense; they picked up everything," said Edwards County coach Linda Oxby, who is retiring after 24 years. "They played a quicker game than we're used to in southern Illinois. We got ourselves in a hole and we didn't know how to come back. Chicago schools play a different kind of ball. We're just country bumpkins from a small little town but we had a great run."

Senior Whitney Beck, a Butler recruit, had 4 kills and 8 digs for the Lions, who finished fourth at state last year.

"We're a momentum team and we never got our groove going today," Beck said. "We just fell apart."

•IC Catholic will welcome home the Knights on Sunday with a parade that will begin at Butterfield Road and York Road at 12:45 p.m. and proceed to the school for a pep rally.

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