Glenbard West wins third consecutive regional title

The Glenbard West girls volleyball team won its third straight regional title Thursday with a 25-23, 25-15 victory over Wheaton North at the Class 4A Oswego East regional. But by looking at hgthe Hilltoppers in their post-match celebration, one could tell the joy they experienced is far from becoming routine.

"This is so much fun. There are really no words to describe the feeling," said Glenbard West senior Robin Sacket. "Everyone was focused and ready to win this match. Our coaches scouted them. We were well-prepared."

The victory pushed the Hilltoppers to 30-7. It's the fourth consecutive season that Glenbard West reached the 30-win mark.

Next up for second-seeded Glenbard West is a Tuesday trip to a Bartlett sectional semifinal against third-seeded St. Charles East at 6:30 p.m.

The Saints defeated the Hilltoppers in the Autumnfest third-place match at Glenbard East a couple of weeks ago. Hilltoppers coach Pete Mastandrea said his team will be better prepared this time around.

"It was right after a loss to Mother McAuley. I was not happy with the effort. We had dead legs and you can't beat a Jennie Kull (St. Charles East coach) team like that," he said

It appeared early Thursday that this might be a very quick evening. The seventh-seeded Falcons (25-9) had no answers to the shots the Hilltoppers were raining down on them in Game 1. And Glenbard West was in the right position to defend any shot Wheaton North sent over the net. The Hilltoppers jumped to an 8-0 lead thanks to 2 kills by Quiana Ware, a block and kill by Sacket, 2 kills by Natalie Schilling and an ace by Kate Wagner. A block by Abby Tiesman put the Falcons on the board for the first time.

Wheaton North came alive and got back into Game 1.

"We just calmed our nerves and played our game," said Falcons coach Carole Kristensen.

Kelly Thornton took over serving with Glenbard West leading 14-7. Two consecutive aces by Thornton, a block and kill by sophomore Haley Horner, who led the Falcons with 7 kills, and two hitting errors by the Hilltoppers pulled Wheaton North to within 15-12.

Later Glenbard West went back up 21-16. The Falcons weren't done though. With Thornton back serving, 3 kills by Horner tied the game at 23. A Falcons block out of bounds, however, gave the Hilltoppers a 24-23 advantage and a kill Ware, who led her team with 9, dried the ink on the opening-game victory.

Ware said her team believed Wheaton North would put up a battle despite being completely dominated in the early moments of Game 1.

"We prepared for this. We took them seriously. We were excited and when they came back we did not let up," she said.

Wheaton North led early in Game 2. With Alana Schouten serving, 3 kills by Grace Tiesman and blocks by Anna Grace and Deb Jezuit put the Falcons up 8-4.

With Wheaton North leading 9-8, the Hilltoppers resumed serving with Alison Burelbach doing the honors. Three kills by Natalie Schilling, 2 kills by Patricia Stirb, 1 kill each from Burelbach and Sacket and three Hilltoppers hitting errors put Glenbard West up 17-10 and Wheaton North never seriously threatened after that.

It was a tough end to a successful season for the Falcons.

"I'll remember the faith they had in each other. This was an unbelievable group of girls," Kristensen said. "They bought into what we were doing and never had a doubt."

  Glenbard West girls volleyball players celebrate their Oswego East regional championship with a 2-0 win over Wheaton North. Daniel White/
  Glenbard West's Jaime Ryan, left, and Alison Burelbach, right, celebrate their Oswego East regional championship with a win over Wheaton North. Daniel White/
  Glenbard West's Alison Burelbach, right, celebrates a win over Wheaton North during the Oswego East girls volleyball regional final. At left are Abbey Matre and Kate Wagner. Daniel White/
  Glenbard West's Abbey Matre defends the floor against Wheaton North during the Oswego East girls volleyball regional final. Kate Wagner, left, helps out on the play. Daniel White/
  Glenbard West's Robin Sacket, left, defends the net against Wheaton North's Abby Tiesman during the Oswego East girls volleyball regional final. Daniel White/
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