Girls volleyball: Benet wins Wheaton tournament championship
Enough of that runner-up, bridesmaid stuff.
While it's impressive just to reach the finals of a loaded Wheaton Classic year in and year out, Benet libero Hattie Monson was not going to settle for second place this time around, not after a trio of finals losses prior to this her senior campaign.
With Monson diving all over the floor making acrobatic saves, the unbeaten Redwings outlasted Marist 22-25, 29-27, 25-22 Saturday night to claim top honors at the 24-team Wheaton volleyball tournament. Marist, the defending state champs, had beaten Benet in the last two championship matches in the Gold Division of this event. Three years ago the Redwings were second to Geneva.
"It's the first time winning this tournament, so this feels really good," said Monson, who was credited with 21 digs in the thrilling finale and was named tourney MVP. "It feels golden. I just know the feeling that I had here the last three years at this point in the season … it was our first loss (of the season) last year and the year before so it feels good to still be undefeated."
There were plenty of good feelings in the gym after a long day of volleyball. Fans were given a chance to see two of the top teams in the state square off in a heavyweight battle that went back and forth down to the wire. In the decisive third set Benet took a 14-10 lead following a kill from Colleen McGuire only to have the Red Hawks (12-2) go on a 10-1 charge for a 20-15 lead. Instead of buckling under the pressure, the 16-0 Redwings went on a 10-1 run of their own to close out the set and the match.
"It's amazing. It still hasn't really hit me that we've actually won," said 6-foot-1 sophomore Ann Marie Remmes, who came up big with timely blocks and kills from the middle. "Benet and Marist has the biggest rivalry and it just feels so good."
There was plenty of firepower on the court and several players on both teams came up big. Sophie Gregus paced the Redwings with 10 kills and Kyla Kenney with 9 and McGuire with 8 were just behind. Gregus was named all-tourney along with setter Rachel Muisenga, who was hit in the head by a teammate's elbow in the final but returned to finish with 38 assists.
"We knew going in, with these matches you've got to be mentally prepared. We've played in these a lot, and a lot of these girls have played in these types of matches," Benet coach Brad Baker said. "It's an hour and a half and you've got to be ready to go mentally. They're going to be tough, they're going to be stressful."
Marist, led by senior Camryn Hannah's attacks and junior setter Nikki Jones' strong play claimed the first set after Hannah slammed down set point, and then had chances to pull off a sweep as the second set was tied at 19, 22, 24, 25, 26 and 27 before the Redwings drew even on the night with a 29-27 win that came after back-to-back block kills from Remmes.
A focused, calm Benet squad then pulled out the third set after several players came up big, even reserve setter Sam Buckley, who stepped in during Muisenga's absence.
Wheaton Warrenville South finished fifth after beating Waubonsie Valley 22-25, 25-21, 27-25. The Tigers' Sarah Burau and Zayna Meyer made the all-tourney team along with Warriors outside hitter Trinity Evans. In the Silver Bracket Lemont beat Prairie Ridge in the finals and Geneva beat St. Charles North in three sets to take third.