Wagner, Glenbard West hold on to beat York in girls volleyball

After Glenbard West starting senior setter Kate Wagner suffered a concussion during her volleyball match Oct. 15, she patiently waited for clearance to return to action.

Actually very patient - as in seven missed matches.

"It was just for safety precautions. I could have come back earlier, but I just had to go with my trainer and it ended up working fine," Wagner said.

"I just wanted to get back as soon as possible and everything's been fine from there."

Since rejoining the lineup for the postseason, Wagner has been anxious. She's trying to help the Hilltoppers get downstate for the first time since their 1983 Class AA championship season.

On Thursday Glenbard West nearly had its back against the wall but rallied to defeat rival York 20-25, 25-22, 25-23 for the Class 4A Riverside-Brookfield Sectional championship.

The Hilltoppers (34-4) play at 6 p.m. Saturday in the York supersectional against Loyola Academy (26-8) with a state semifinal berth on the line.

On Sept. 18 in Elmhurst, York (32-7) beat Glenbard West in three games after losing the first.

"Everyone contributed at least one thing (tonight). That's what we've been working on this entire season," said Wagner, who had 40 assists.

"York and us have been neck and neck this entire season. Obviously, we knew it was going to be a tough one. I'm just proud of everyone that we pulled it out."

Much of the match featured a slugfest between two of the greatest hitters in their programs' histories - York senior all-time kill leader Alexandra Preuss had 21 and Glenbard West senior Natalie Schilling had 20.

"What a showdown," Glenbard West coach Pete Mastandrea said.

"We had a lot of nervous energy (early) and they came out and stuck it to us. That's a very well-coached team, an outstanding team, and it's a quality win for us. We got lucky. That (second) game was very, very close so I'm glad that we got it done."

Both teams also displayed great defense and blocked aggressively. But after 10 kills from Schilling in the first game, senior Quiana Ware contributed 13 of her 15 kills over the final two. Junior libero Claire Wagner, Kate's sister, was a defensive dynamo with 24 digs.

Ware's back-row kill opened a 19-11 lead in the third game.

"It feels so great. We were very confident, but we know and respect York because they were a very good team," Ware said. "None of us came in here thinking we were going to beat York in two. We came to fight and that's what we did."

As they had all season, the Dukes also showed plenty of fight. They first lost starting senior Michelle Wiese to injury at the end of August, then starting senior Ally Mann Oct. 5.

Facing its first match point at 24-19, York regained serve from an attack error. Julia Zerdin then served for three straight points to close to 24-23, which included Preuss' second kill of the third game and her block with Kristie Paus.

The match ended on a York attack error.

"We didn't play our game plan, so that's a little disappointing," York coach Patty Iverson said. "We lost probably 10, 11 points in this match from being out of position on defense. We were right there, though.

"We've only lost two matches since we lost (Mann). The team's been playing well, so it's disappointing we couldn't have won because there's things we could have done and we just didn't do them."

The Hilltoppers, appearing in their fourth straight sectional, won one for the first time since 2012, when Wagner and Schilling were freshman starters.

"I'm proud of the kids. I'm really happy for the seniors," Mastandrea said. "Kate and Natalie, that's amazing what they've done. (A record of) 62-1 at home. This is two sectional championships that they have."

Sarah Rose had 29 assists and libero Halle Truett had 14 digs for the Dukes, who lost in the sectional finals for the second straight year. Preuss surpassed 500 kills this season and 1,000 on the varsity.

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