Carmel, Libertyville spin into sectional final

 
 
Updated 11/4/2014 10:57 PM
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The week started with turning clocks backward one hour. The week continued for Carmel Catholic's volleyball team Tuesday with the Corsairs honing their clockwise turns on a court.

Their rotations, specifically.

About two hours before its Class 4A sectional semifinal against Stevenson at Glenbrook North, Carmel practiced its rotations in a walk-through. It was considered a must after sophomore setter/right side Grace Butler injured her right (hitting) shoulder in practice Monday.

"She couldn't swing, but she could still set the ball," coach David Pazely said. "She could still block. She could still serve."

Running a 5-1 offense for the first time all season, with Butler at the controls, Carmel still executed, defeating No. 7 Stevenson 25-18, 25-20. As a result, the Corsairs will spin volleyballs in Thursday's 6 p.m. final. No. 3 Carmel (33-5) will face top-seeded Libertyville (32-6).

"Butler's definitely a big part of our offense, swinging-wise," said Drake-bound Gracie Schofield, who led the Corsairs with 6 kills. "It was a little nerve-racking coming in, just because she's a big point scorer. So we really had to rely on our middles a lot."

Butler's sets were important, too. She dished out 13 assists.

"I was nervous, at first," Butler said. "But I've run a 5-1 before, where I just set. So I was pretty confident.

"Everyone adapted well."

Allie Wayland was among the Corsairs who helped on the attack to compensate for Butler's inability to spike. The 6-foot junior hammered 4 kills.

"Allie stepped up big-time," Schofield said. "This might have been one of her best (matches) all year. She's definitely hitting all of her shots."

Schofield and fellow senior captains Morgan Meade (5 kills) and Sierra Kepski (15 digs) accepted the burden, and they didn't disappoint their team.

"We really tried to keep the team steady, even though we might have been a little nervous ourselves," Schofield said. "I think that was the most important part because if we got nervous, then I think it would have reflected on the team."

Pazely called it a "team win," as the Corsairs had contributions from up and down their lineup. The opponent impressed Carmel's coach, too.

"They've got good athletes," Pazely said of the Patriots. "We knew that coming in. When you can upset Hersey, we know you can play. Great effort from them as well. They stayed aggressive all night long. They kept us off balance a few times. But we were able to keep our composure and fight back at the right moments."

Stevenson (23-14) was coming off an upset of No. 2 Hersey in the Patriots' own regional final. The Patriots committed 4 service errors in the opening set and never caught up after Carmel used a 7-0 run -- which include a kill and block by Schofield -- to erase a 10-8 deficit.

Trailing only 8-7 in the second set, Stevenson allowed six straight points. But the Patriots rallied, and a kill by Emily Brasier evened the set at 19-19, before Meade hammered a kill to give Carmel the lead for good.

When Schofield powered a kill through a pair of blockers, she ended Stevenson's season.

"It was the epitome of our season," Patriots coach Tim Crow said. "We were just up and down. We made some bad decisions. A lot times we had momentum and then we would do something to take it away, whether it was missing a serve, being in the net or getting called for a ball (violation). Those are the things we did not do against Hersey."

The one constant in Stevenson's season was the play of 5-10 sophomore Jori Radtke, whose 13 kills gave her a whopping 346 for the season. She had 17 kills in both regional matches.

"She's ridiculous," Crow said. "I give her credit. She is a great competitor. And she was willing, as a sophomore, to put everything on her shoulders."

Libertyville d. Glenbrook South: The Wildcats won the first sectional semifinal at Glenbrook North, 25-20, 25-21 to oust the fourth-seeded Titans.

Erin Dunleavy and Hannah Zerwas led a balanced attack for Libertyville (32-6) with 6 kills apiece. Cornell-bound Alex Basler added 4 kills, while Annika Hawkinson and Anna Lillydahl contributed 3 apiece. Lizzie Apgar dished out 21 assists.

"I feel like now, more than ever, everyone's stepping it up at the right time," Basler said after the Wildcats earned a berth in Thursday's 6 p.m. sectional final against Carmel. "It's not one person getting 12 kills. It's like, '5, 5, 5.' Everyone's getting great ups that you remember."

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