Hersey's championship season came to an end, but not before the Huskies made top-seeded New Trier work down to the wire of the Trevians' own Class 4A girls volleyball sectional championship.
The Mid-Suburban League champs rallied from a 5-point deficit to win Set 1 and cut an 8-point deficit to 3 points in the final set before the Trevians pulled away again for a 21-25, 25-12, 25-17 triumph on Wednesday night in Winnetka.
New Trier (33-5) advanced to Friday's Lake Zurich supersectional to face Crystal Lake Central at 6 p.m.
No. 2 seeded Hersey finished with a 30-9 record -- and a promising future.
Senior Amy Morgan led the Huskies with 7 kills followed by sophomore Kati Kaburov (4), senior Hayley Martin (3) and junior Alessia Olhava (3).
"We are going to miss our seniors for sure," said Hersey coach Nancy Lill. "But this team is young. We start three sophomores and a junior so the future is so bright with this group. It's exciting to think about where we're going to be next two seasons. It's going to be a blast."
The Huskies were having a blast after winning the first set in which they rallied from a 19-14 deficit.
Getting 2 kills apiece from Martin and sophomore Janine Boyan, the Huskies climbed back to within 20-18.
Olhava's side out kill tied the set at 21-21 when Kaburov stepped to the service line. The MSL East Player of the Year reeled off three straight aces to get the Huskies to set point (24-21).
"Serving that row of aces, Kati really took team on her back under that pressure," Lill said. "She just said, 'We're winning this.' "
Morgan's big kill then gave the Huskies the win.
"I've never been on a team that has had so much fight," said Morgan, a three-year starter at outside hitter. "Teams don't see it coming from us but we have it.
"We weren't intimidated. I just think we were too excited after the first set. We needed to take a deep breath at times. We definitely had the potential to go on and win the match. I think we got caught off guard when we won that first set. We were just so happy and proud of ourselves."
New Trier came out and built a 12-5 lead in Set 2 and never let the Huskies back into serious contention.
"I felt like we got tight on our passing game and we couldn't run our offense that first set," said New Trier coach Hannah Hsieh, whose only full time starting senior is libero Julia Masiel (11 digs).
"Our goal is go downstate and that's all we can think about right now," said 6-foot-1 junior middle hitter Gillian Klise, who led the Trevians with 13 kills, many coming on quick sets from 6-foot setter Payton Hielscher (26 assists). "Hersey played with a lot of energy. They're a great team. They have great defensive players. They go for everything. They never give up and were a very tough opponent."
That gritty attitude was back in Set 3, as the Huskies' refused to give in to an 18-10 deficit.
Morgan served 4 straight points, getting kills from sophomore Juliette van den Herik and Kaburov, to cut the deficit to 18-15 and force Hsieh to call a time out.
The Trevians answered by scoring 7 of the match's final 9 points.
"I'm just so proud of my team getting this far," Morgan said. "I haven't slept the past two days thinking about this match. I'm so proud to be a part of this team."
Morgan is one of seven seniors who will graduate.
"The seniors were just phenomenal," Lill said. "Look at Amy, all of 5-foot-8. She plays huge and left it all out on the court. Emma (Strozewski who has 7 assists) has been a three-year varsity player. Julia (Coniglio) and Molly (Twohig) have been interchangeable as liberos.
"We've got Haley (Martin), who is a been a huge attacker for is all season. And Patty (Tomaszkiewicz) and Ellie (Fahey) who are just great team players. We are going to miss them all for sure."
Anyone watching Hersey this fall couldn't miss the Huskies' character.
"We had so many situations where we'd get down, especially in the third set, and knew we could come back from anything," Morgan said. "We came back from 16 points to win a set this season. So we had fight. We just believed we could always do it and anything can happen in a match."
Wednesday's match happened to be against one of the top teams in the state playing in its own gymnasium.
"I give credit to New Trier," Lill said. "They bounced back after the first set. They got in system with their offense and they're just a tough team to handle. They have so many weapons. They're huge. It's just a tall order to beat them, literally."
Twohig led Hersey with 21 digs while Olhava had 18 along with 7 assists. Boyan led with 5 blocks.
"What defense Molly played, especially Set 1," Lill said. "Janine blocked a ton tonight. Alessia is so quick getting to the ball.
"I'm proud of all our girls. They left it on the floor. That first set was so typical of our season -- never say die, always battling."
Lill won't soon forget her 30th team at Hersey.
"The memory I'll have of this team is its refusal to give up. They showed character all through the regional. When we were facing elimination, they continually battled. There were so much guts on this team. The kids played their hearts out. Unfortunately we just met our match tonight.
"Props to New Trier. They're a great team. We knew going in it was a tough match with their height and with their swings. They're a young team, too, so I'm sure we'll see them again the next couple of years."