Girls volleyball: Cary-Grove stands tall again, stops Stevenson
Cary-Grove had history on its side Saturday night.
For the third time since 2010, the Trojans matched up with Stevenson in a Class 4A girls volleyball supersectional, and for the third time the Trojans came out on top, winning the Grayslake Central supersectional 25-18, 25-21.
Cary-Grove (34-5), which won the 2009 state title, will head to Redbird Arena for the fourth time since that championship season and take on St. Francis in next Friday's 9 p.m. state semifinal. St. Francis, the three-time defending Class 3A state champ, knocked off defending 4A champ Benet Saturday in the Bolingbrook supersectional.
Once again this year, the Trojans carried in some heavy equipment -- as in tall, capable players. Madison Katchen stands 6-feet-1. Allison Splitt is 6-2 and Rebecca Elrod stands 6-3.
Stevenson's tallest player is the team's setter, Corissa Kurth, who isn't quite 6 feet.
"We have a lot of chemistry on this team,'' Splitt said. "But Stevenson played great. They have a really scrappy defense."
Splitt (8 kills) opened the proceedings with consecutive kills from the middle. However, Kurth answered back for the Pats and set No. 1 was knotted at 4-4.
"It was hard for us,'' Kurth said. "They ran a quick offense with their middles. Cary-Grove is a great team."
Stevenson hurt itself with missed serves in set one.
"We had a shot,'' Crow said. "In that first set, we missed six serves."
Alessandra Vasquez (5-10) and Katchen had consecutive kills as the Trojans' lead opened up to 19-13.
Something changed in the set two. Stevenson's serves had a purpose, to break down the Cary-Grove defense. And after an ace from libero Morgan Berland, the Stevenson lead was 9-6.
"Cary played great,'' Crow said. "But I thought we might pull out that second set. We got our serves in the second set."
That second set features 12 ties. Jori Radtke, the Pats' major threat, began to find the range with her hits. Her seventh kill knotted it up at 13-13. Kurth ripped off an ace to tie it again at 15-15. Katchen laced out a pair of kills, and the last one gave the Trojans a 17-16 lead.
Stevenson's last lead of the season came with Chloe Robinson on the serving line. Another ace and a solid block kill from Isabella Milejczyk gave the Pats a 20-19 advantage.
And then the Trojans took control for good. Katchen nailed an ace and Splitt landed a kill.
"This is so exciting,'' Splitt said. "We have worked so long for this. This is great."
Kurth closed her great career at Stevenson with 14 assists and 2 kills. Berland and Radtke each had 10 digs.
Crow's club had 9 seniors on it -- Kurth, Berland, Milejczyk, Zoe Graflund, Kathryn Collins, Jordyn Taborek, Jessica Cliffer, Emmaline Bufe and Revell Cozzi.
The next Stevenson team will build around Radtke. Sara Woodstein showed some promise in the middle during her junior campaign, and Robinson brings plenty of varsity experience as well.
"I'm happy with our season,'' Kurth said.
Crow had a tear in his eye after this match.
"It's about time and effort and the great relationships you make,'' he said. "These are great athletes and great people. It's been fun -- and fun for the fans, too."