St. Francis didn't want a repeat of last year's regional opener when the third-seeded Spartans fell to No. 15 seed Waubonsie Valley.
This time around St. Francis, again playing as a three seed, took care of business during a 25-21, 25-18 win over No. 14 seed Hinsdale Central at Tuesday's Metea Valley regional.
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The Spartans (30-6) advanced to Wednesday's regional final and will face Glenbard East at 6 p.m. at Metea Valley.
"We did not want to happen this year what happened last year," senior outside hitter Greg Churney said. "Last year we kind of had our goals set further on and we overlooked the first game. We have to take it game by game this time."
St. Francis pulled ahead from a slim 9-8 lead in the first game, scoring five of the next six points before a Red Devils timeout.
Hinsdale Central (23-13) came out of the break and trimmed the deficit to one at 14-13 after a pair of kills by Cam Harvey, a St. Francis attack error and a service ace by Kian Peterson.
But senior setter Robert Smith assisted on three straight Spartans kills, one by Jeff Jendryk, and two straight from Churney to give his team a 17-13 lead.
From there St. Francis held at least a two-point lead the rest of the game, which ended on a kill by Joseph Denny off a Hinsdale Central over serve.
In Game 2 the Spartans took advantage of 10 Red Devils errors, including a stretch of six that helped St. Francis gain a 14-8 lead.
Jendryk increased his team's lead to 16-10 on two straight kills, one from Smith and one from Churney.
Smith and Jendryk all but put the match away when Smith put up a pair of sets that hung in the air for a split second. But Jendryk managed to get a hand on the ball both times and softly send it over the net for a 21-16 lead.
"The passing and setting were really good; Robert is always there with his sets," Churney said. "I didn't want to lose."
The Red Devils ended the campaign with a 23-13 record in coach Mike Konrad's first season.
"We've got one sophomore starter and three junior starters, so we have a solid group coming back," Konrad said. "It was good to get back into high school volleyball. It reminded me of what it was like when I was a player."