The first set was sort of a trial run for St. Viator's girls volleyball team.
The Lions got off to a fast start before falling behind Rosary in a 25-21 loss.
But in Sets 2 and 3, the Lions made their early leads stand up for a 21-25, 25-12, 25-14 victory in the championship match of the Class 3A Burlington Central sectional Wednesday.
Catherine Hickey led the way for St. Viator with 18 kills while adding 11 digs and 4 aces.
It was the first sectional championship in program history for the Lions (28-11), who will play Bartonville Limestone Friday at 7 p.m. in the Rochelle supersectional.
With Taylor Pfaller serving and Hickey pounding it down from the left side, the Lions raced to a 5-0 lead in the first set. But then the Lions stalled. Rosary went on a 9-4 run to lead 17-14 and never looked back. That prompted some soul-searching by the Lions.
"We realized that this could potentially be our last time playing, and we needed to pick it up if we wanted to go on," Hickey said. "And I think we snapped out of it."
The second set had a similar start but a much different finish as the Lions built a 13-4 lead on an ace by Vicky Liberty and just kept rolling.
"Definitely, we rode the wave tonight," said St. Viator coach Charlie Curtin. "Luckily, we were able to serve pretty aggressively and keep them out of their system. We tried our best to not let number 16 (Rosary's 6-foot-1 middle blocker Maya Sullivan) attack the ball, and I don't know how many kills she had, but I think we did a pretty good job with that."
The Cinderella run finally came to an end for Rosary (15-23). St. Viator started strong again in the third set and Rosary couldn't complete a Hail Mary to get back in it Leading 16-11, the Lions reeled off 4 straight points to take control.
"You can't start off a game like that, let alone three," said Rosary coach Bill Allen. "I don't think they changed anything (in the second set). I think they just settled down and started taking advantage of what they had."
Liberty added 8 kills, and Kate Nottoli 5 for St. Viator. Carrie Leazer anchored the back line with 19 digs and setter Micheala Mueller dished out 34 assists.
Annaleah Esp led with 7 kills for Rosary while Lauren Brummel added 5.