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updated: 11/3/2017 10:31 PM

Girls volleyball: Aurora Christian falls one step shy of state

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By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent

SENECA -- The historic Aurora Christian girls volleyball season ended with an immovable object.

St. Thomas More sophomore middle Allie Trame had blocks on three consecutive points to cap a 9-point unanswered run that lifted the Sabers to a 25-20, 25-19 straight-set victory at the Class 2A Seneca supersectional Friday night.

Aurora Christian, which had never even won a regional prior to its current postseason run, ended its year at 27-8.

"They had a really strong outside block," Aurora Christian coach Amanda Currens said.

"I don't think we were prepared for their blocking," said Aurora Christian sophomore Cate Long, who has already committed to Clemson. "We haven't really faced any teams who had a block like that."

The Sabers' Trame and Auburn-bound setter Mica Allison combined for 9 blocks.

Aurora Christian was seeking to extend the Champaign-based school to a third set.

The Eagles capitalized on three straight STM mistakes to take a 19-16 lead in the second set.

But the Sabers (37-3), who qualified for the Final Four for the first time in program history, rebounded in dramatic fashion as Hayes Murray served 8 consecutive points to end the Eagles' season.

Five of the Sabers' final 6 points came off blocks.

"That was the first time that we saw someone who runs an offense and defense like they do," Aurora Christian senior libero Emily Ward said. "Their blockers were big and tall. At that point there wasn't much we could do."

"We had one of our weaker rotations at that point," Currans said of the fatal Murray service run.

"We just kind of fell apart," Long said.

Kaitlyn Beebe began the match in promising fashion for Aurora Christian with back-to-back aces.

But kills would come at a premium for the Eagles.

Lucy Lux-Rulon had a kill for a fourth straight St. Thomas More point that broke the final tie at 8-8 in the first game.

Aurora Christian would claw back to within a point, 18-17, but the remainder of the opening set was controlled by the Sabers' imposing front.

"We had a game plan," Currans said. "They were able to put that ball down. (Murray) was able to take away some of our ball control (with her serving)."

There were 13 second-set ties before Aurora Christian took its largest lead of the second game at 19-16.

But the Sabers' Kayla Brandon had a kill to return the serve to St. Thomas More to set up the Murray service flourish that Trame concluded with her three straight blocks.

"It's so much fun to get a good block," Trame said. "You can put your hands up and you know the ball is going straight down."

Ward, Courtney Ondrus, Megan Hart and Korrin Schalhamer had their Aurora Christian volleyball careers come to a close.

"It was a history-making season," Currans said.

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