Benet wins another tournament title

If it’s Saturday, it must mean another Benet tournament championship.

The No. 2 Redwings made it 4-for-4 in tournament titles this season, beating Joliet Catholic 25-19, 17-25, 25-22 to repeat as champions at Glenbard East’s Autumnfest in Lombard.

“The hard work definitely paid off,” said tournament MVP Meghan Haggerty, who had 15 kills in the final. “Sweeping all the tournaments, it’s a great feeling. We’ve had some ups and downs this year, but we’re starting to get it now and get on a roll.”

It’s the first time Benet has been perfect in tournaments — and really, how many teams have ever made that claim?

The 2008 Redwings state runners-up won their Benet Invite, Wheaton Classic and Willowbrook before losing their first match of the year to Joliet Catholic at Autumnfest.

These Redwings (30-3) could have two more Saturdays ahead of them — at supersectionals in three weeks and the state finals Nov. 12.

“It’s great to play good against good competition,” Benet coach Brad Baker said. “Every time you’re in the championship matches it’s pressure situations. It’s great to see our kids constantly step up in those moments.”

Benet beat St. Charles East for the third time this season, this time 25-15, 25-20 in the semifinals. Then the Redwings had to beat Joliet Catholic for the second time in three days.

To the surprise of no one, the rematch was much closer than Thursday’s straight-set rout in Lisle.

Joliet Catholic (29-5), still without injured outside Kelly Feigh, snapped Benet’s streak of 21 straight sets won to force a third. Angels senior Lauren Robertson had 6 kills and 4 aces in the second set, 2 of the aces during a key 6-0 stretch midway through.

Benet led 14-7 in the third after Maddie Haggerty smashed one of her 12 kills. The lead was still 17-11 after a Nora Young kill, but from there Joliet Catholic reeled off a 7-1 run keyed by three Morgan Reardon kills, a Benet net violation tying it at 18-18.

Out of a timeout Meghan Haggerty feathered in a tip kill, then flipped another kill over her shoulder. The Wisconsin-bound middle would go on to score 6 of Benet’s last 7 points, her kill on a slide play giving the Redwings match point.

“They were playing deep, expecting me to hit it hard,” Meghan Haggerty said, “so I switched it up on them a little.”

Robertson had 12 kills and 5 aces for Joliet Catholic, which needed to rally from down 22-17 in the third set just to beat Providence 21-25, 25-18, 25-23 in the quarterfinals.

Jenna Jendryk had 8 kills and 9 digs and Maggie Haggerty 8 digs and 3 blocks for Benet, Reardon 11 kills for Joliet Catholic.

“We definitely got their best game today,” Maddie Haggerty said.

St. Charles East coach Jennie Kull was in good spirits about her No. 7 Saints (28-6) after a long day on the comeback trail.

The Saints, down 24-20 in the third set to Huntley in the quarterfinals, stormed back for a 25-23, 21-25, 26-24 win. St. Charles East libero Maisey Mulvey pulled a hamstring in the loss to Benet, but she is expected back next week.

The Saints trailed Mother McAuley 21-16 in the third set, then rallied to grab a 22-21 lead on a kill by Meghan Niski. McAuley got to match point at 24-22 before a Niski kill and Erienne Barry ace. Finally the Mighty Macs were able to put away a 19-25, 25-22, 28-26 win.

“I wish we would have played a hair better, because that would have been awesome,” Saints coach Jennie Kull said, “but I’m real proud of them. Usually we don’t play well at this tournament so I am very pleased with how we played.”

No. 5 Huntley, seeded fifth at Autumnfest and in the Gold playoffs for the first time, rebounded nicely after the late collapse against St. Charles East.

The Red Raiders (26-7) bounced back to beat West Aurora 25-21, 18-25, 25-20 and Providence 25-22, 25-14 for fifth place.

Jaina Jackson had 15 kills and Sam Boesch 13 against West Aurora, and Boesch had 16 kills and 16 digs versus Providence.

“I’m real proud of them,” said Huntley coach Michelle Jakubowski. “At the Asics (Challenge) we lost to Berkeley Prep in three and then we didn’t win another match. We kind of crumbled. We could have easily crumbled today but we came back.”

No. 15 Glenbard West, seeded eighth at Glenbard East, also came back well Saturday after a three-set loss to West Aurora in pool play.

The Hilltoppers beat Crystal Lake South, Naperville Central and Prairie Ridge, all in three sets, to win the Silver bracket.

“That’s great for us,” Hilltoppers coach Pete Mastandrea said. “I think we found a level we didn’t know we had.”

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