Team effort lifts St. Charles East over Glenbard West

Throughout the season, St. Charles East's volleyball team has received contributions from all parties.

That trend continued during the Saints' tension-filled 25-22, 20-25, 25-20 Class 4A sectional semifinal victory over Glenbard West Tuesday night at Bartlett.

Sophomore outside hitter Kyla Augustine recorded 6 of her team-high 10 kills in the decisive third game, including 3 of the last 5 points as the third-seeded Saints (30-8) held off the second-seeded Hilltoppers (30-8).

"Every game, it's someone else," said Saints coach Jennie Kull. "You can scout us all you want but somebody else comes on in another game. Whether it's the bench - everybody is needed at some point during the season.

"I think that's what has been so special and that's why we don't want this to end."

With the win, the Saints earned a fourth meeting this season against top-seeded Benet Academy, which defeated Geneva 25-17, 22-25, 25-16 in the earlier semifinal match.

The Redwings own a 3-0 mark against St. Charles East.

"Now we get to play Benet for the fourth time this season," said Kull. "They're a great team. They're disciplined. We battled the last time - we took them to three (at last month's Mizuno Cup)."

Against Glenbard West, the Saints pulled away midway through the opening game thanks largely to the efforts of junior outside hitter Avery Macklin (3 kills), senior middle hitter Mikaela Mosquera (1 kill, 3 blocks) and senior outside hitter Meagan Smith (2 kills).

However, the Hilltoppers charged back in a tight second game that included 10 ties - the last time at 18-18 before 3 consecutive blocks from Patricia Stirb (4 kills, 7 blocks) and Kate Wagner gave Glenbard West the lead for good.

"We had played them earlier (St. Charles East won at Autumnfest) and we knew it wasn't even close to what they were like," Kull said of the Hilltoppers. "Glenbard West is a great program but I couldn't be prouder of our kids tonight."

In Game 3, the Saints jumped out to a 5-1 lead on a pair of kills from senior setter/outside hitter Megan Schildmeyer (7 kills, 15 assists, 4 assists).

"I had a rough start in the first game and I realized that I needed to pick it up as well," said Schildmeyer.

Glenbard West answered with a 5-0 run to take a 7-6 lead and still clung to a 10-9 advantage before a kill by Augustine and a block from Mosquera following a magnificent dig by Anne Hughes (26 digs) put the Saints on top to stay.

The Hilltoppers made another late charge, pulling within 19-18 on back-to-back kills from Natalie Schilling (9 kills) before the Saints kept their season alive by scoring 6 of the final 8 points.

"Being the lower seed, we came in with the feeling of nothing to lose," said Schildmeyer. "It came down to who could keep it together the longest. Kyla Augustine stepped up huge."

"As every point goes by, you realize you're getting that much closer to what could be the end," said Augustine. "You can't let that faze you - you have to let it motivate you."

The Hilltoppers' season ended in the sectional semifinals for the second straight year.

"It was a very determined group - they fought hard," said Hilltoppers coach Peter Mastandrea. "I think they overachieved. This was a great year - 30 wins for the fourth straight year and undefeated at home three years in a row.

"Congratulations to St. Charles East - it's a quality program we expect to see again. We're not planning on disappearing."

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