NORMAL -- St. Viator senior Catherine Hickey took swing after swing, 64 of them in all, Friday afternoon in the Class 3A state girls volleyball semifinals at Redbird Arena.
Teammates Kendall Claffey and Kaylee Liberty combined for 58 more, just like Hickey trying to find a hole in Resurrection's defense.
There just weren't many to be found.
In the first state appearance for both schools, the Bandits' scrappy defense proved to be the difference in a 30-32, 25-23, 25-18 victory in a match that set a 3A state record for most combined points both in a match and a set.
Hickey ended up with a team-high 14 kills but there wasn't an easy one to be had against a Bandits back-row that finished with 80 digs.
"They were definitely very scrappy," Hickey said. "I don't think we finished our points. We're used to shorter rallies, putting the ball down and getting the point. The rallies went on and they kept on picking up everything."
That's just the way Resurrection likes to play. Even after dropping a wild first set that saw the Bandits rally from a 6-point deficit and fight off 5 set points, the Bandits responded by taking the next two.
The win advances Resurrection (34-8) to state championship match Saturday against Althoff Catholic (40-1).
"That's kind of the foundation of the whole season," Bandits coach Mike Sopocy said. "Our defense is fantastic. It's 12 people playing defense. They never say die until that ball hits the floor."
St. Viator (29-12), which will play Normal U-High (28-11) at 4 p.m. Saturday in the third-place match, got off to a fast start. A block by Kate Nottoli gave the Lions a 12-7 lead, and their biggest spread came at 19-13 when the Bandits hit long -- one of 13 attack errors in the opening set.
Nottoli's tip kill took the Lions to their first set point at 24-21 before the Bandits erased three straight set points, then got one of their own up 25-24. A kill by Nottoli got St. Viator back in a tie, and the Lions won three more clutch rallies facing set point.
The final of those came down 30-29, and Claffey's kill, a Bandit hitting error and an ace by Carrie Leazer finally ended the set.
"It was unbelievable back-and-forth action," St. Viator coach Charlie Curtin said. "Both teams were fighting to the end and wanting to leave it all on the court."
That set-ending serve was one of two aces for Leazer, who also had 15 digs.
"I have a lot of confidence for the whole team going into that last serve," Leazer said. "It was really cool after that long run to see it was over and we had the first game."
St. Viator's best chance to win the match came in the second set. The Lions led 13-10 after Hickey and Vicky Gorny teamed up for a block.
The Lions served long on the next point, one of 11 service errors in the match and six in the second set. One of those missed serves came with the Lions down 24-23 and ended the second set.
"Our serving was breaking down and they had really good defense," Leazer said. "We kept on mixing up our shots but they had everything."
After two tight sets, the Bandits stayed in control of the third. The Lions fell into early 10-6 and 16-10 holes and never got closer than 3 points the rest of the match.
St. Viator had 9 kills and 8 hitting errors in the deciding third set.
Brittany Welch pounded a match-high 18 kills to lead the Bandits.
"All season long they just work, work, work and that's what it took to beat a team like Viator," Sopocy said. "We prepared very well. We know exactly what Viator was going to do and they didn't really change anything up on us. We just had to execute."
Michaela Mueller set 32 assists for Viator with 12 digs. Hickey led the team with 18 digs.
"Knowing that we can still play tomorrow we need to come out with more energy," Mueller said. "We can still get that third-place trophy. I think that motivates us even more to win tomorrow."