Glenbard West going to state
When Pete Mastandrea took over as Glenbard West girls volleyball coach, he immediately gave his players a one-question quiz: What is Redbird Arena?
"And nobody knew," he said. "And I told them that we're going to get there."
Not only do the current Hilltoppers know the answer, they secured an invitation, just as their coach predicted 10 years ago.
Glenbard West (35-5) defeated Loyola Academy 25-16, 25-17 on Saturday night at the Class 4A York supersectional to earn a berth in the state semifinals next weekend. The Hilltoppers will meet Normal Community at 7:30 p.m. Friday, hoping to return home with a state championship just like the boys team did last spring.
Oh, Redbird Arena is in Normal, as current seniors Natalie Schilling and Kate Wagner know very well.
"That's kind of been a common theme for us since we were freshmen," Wagner said. "We got to the squad when we were freshmen and we didn't really know what was happening totally, but to be a senior is so much more special. It's just a great experience, and what a way to end our volleyball career."
The Duke-bound Schilling finished with 16 kills and 6 digs, making an impression again on her opponent with the ferocity of her spikes.
"Natalie Schilling is on our team," Mastandrea said. "We're OK. This is a great volleyball player who's had a great career, and she wasn't going to lose. Neither was Kate."
Glenbard West got a great start to the first game, with Wagner serving seven straight points, including two aces, for a 9-2 lead. The Hilltoppers' lead peaked at 23-11 before Loyola picked up some momentum to narrow the margin at the end.
"They did a good job of getting us out of system," Loyola coach Mark Chang said. "It was hard for us to gain momentum offensively. There were moments of it, but it wasn't enough tonight."
That momentum carried over to Game 2, when Loyola ran out to a 3-0 lead, forcing Mastandrea to take a timeout. Whatever he said worked. The Hilltoppers came right back and took the lead, going up 15-6. A Schilling tip kill finished the match and set off a Glenbard West celebration.
"It's a happy day for us," Mastandrea said, noting the football team's 7-0 playoff victory against powerful Mt. Carmel just hours earlier. "It still is kind of surreal. I feel like I'm going to walk outside and I'll be waking up in the morning and nothing happened. This is a big deal for us."
"It hasn't set in yet," Schilling added. "I think it's going to take a little while."
Wagner added 24 assists, 8 digs and 4 aces. Claire Wagner added 9 digs and 4 aces, Hannah Brodner had 14 digs and Mariana Galiga served 2 aces.
Follow Orrin on Twitter @Orrin_Schwarz