NORMAL -- Mike Bui took one look at the stat sheet, shook his head and smiled.
All the Harvest Christian girls volleyball coach could do was tip his hat after watching Champaign St. Thomas More blitz his Lions 25-8, 25-21 Friday afternoon in the Class 2A state semifinals at Redbird Arena.
"Four hitting errors, 27 kills, you should win most of the time," Bui said of the totals for the 38-3 Sabres.
"They are big. They are good. With the schedule we play, they are probably the best team we've seen. We just couldn't stop them."
Bui took another look at those stats and shook his head once again that the Sabres got sideouts on 7 of 8 tries in the opening set that set the tone for the match.
Led by Auburn-bound Mica Allison (9 kills, 9 assists) and Alabama-commit Allie Trame (6 kills in 8 attempts), the Sabres hit .434 and overpowered Harvest.
"We fought hard but we could only do so much when they have big, tall kids who can hit the ball anywhere on the court," Bui said. "They don't have a weakness really. Mica Allison is one of the best players I've seen all year. The kid can do it all. Great setter, big-time hitter, huge blocker, she does it all for them."
Harvest (29-12) will play Newton (31-8) in the third place match at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Sabres face Quincy Notre Dame (33-6) for the state title.
Coming off a win over another Northeastern Athletic Conference team -- Aurora Christian -- in the supersectional, St. Thomas More jumped on Harvest early.
Rylee Boldog's kill tied the first set at 2 for the Lions before things quickly unraveled. Amanda Cassidy's backrow kill and a Zoe Pawelek's winner were the only points for Harvest in an 8-2 Sabres run that gave them a 10-4 lead and forced Bui's first timeout.
"We held our composure right away," Sabres coach Stan Bergman said. "It looked like they were very nervous and we really took advantage of it. We capitalized on a lot of the out-of-system balls they sent over."
The Lions scored their only back-to-back points of the set on a kill by Madison Pfister and Cassidy's shot off the Sabres block to pull within 12-6 before St. Thomas More closed the first set on a 13-2 spree including the final 9 points.
"It was difficult trying to figure out where to go offensively in game one," Bui said. "Game two it was swing away."
The Lions played a much better second set. Cassidy put down 6 of her team-high 9 kills in the set, leading a more aggressive approach.
"The biggest thing from the first game to the second was not to play timid and to fight for it," Cassidy said. "Because we have nothing to lose. Honestly it's a huge blessing just to be here in itself."
A Hannah Griffith kill and a pair of Sabre errors in a 3-0 run put the Lions up 8-6. The Sabres went ahead for good 9-8 on Olivia Nogle's ace, and St. Thomas More built a 19-15 lead before one last Lions charge.
A Boldog kill and Griffith's ace drew Harvest as close as 20-19 before some big swings by the Sabres, including Allison on match point, gave St. Thomas More the win.
Libero Candis Kaplan led Harvest with 9 digs, and it wasn't easy facing all the powerful hitters.
"I was just going to my line and practice going to where coach said they are going to hit," Kaplan said. "I was just trying to be disciplined and stay where he told me to go."
Pfister added 4 kills and Boldog 3 kills while Kaitlyn Murray set 18 assists for the Lions, who get a chance to end their season on a high note Saturday.
"That's the one thing I've learned from Jennie Kull," Bui said of his time as an assistant under the longtime St. Charles East coach.
"There's only eight teams that leave Redbird Arena a winner. We have an opportunity to go in tomorrow and win our last match."