Girls volleyball: Fremd tips Hersey in 3-set classic
No one should have been surprised the second semifinal of Class 4A Maine East girls volleyball sectional went to three sets on Monday night in Park Ridge.
After all, it was the two most dominating programs in the recent history of the Mid-Suburban League.
No. 2 Hersey and No. 3 Fremd put on an exciting match until the MSL champion Vikings pulled away in final set for a 25-23, 22-25, 25-17 triumph.
Fremd (34-4) will face No. 4 Glenbrook South (26-11), which upset No. 1 Loyola in the first semifinal, in Wednesday's 6 p.m. title match.
Fremd and Hersey had already played for the MSL championship (Fremd won in two sets) and for third place at the Lake Park Invite (Fremd in three sets) over the past two weeks.
"She's (Hersey coach Nancy Lill) got more than 1,000 wins," said Fremd coach Curt Pinley. "That's a legacy. I don't even now where to start talking about something of that nature. So anytime we can compete with Hersey it's an opportunity to play your best against one of the best.
"As the years have gone on we both have our turns (winning). Nancy is a fantastic coach and has an amazing program. Anytime we can win three times in a season, I'm happy."
"We were a little nervous but a little more confident than usual because we knew we could keep up with them since we had won twice," said Vikings sophomore standout setter Rian Baker, who handed out 30 assists. "We just knew we had to play our game and regroup after the second set. Rylen (Ried) played great."
Reid was a frequent target of Baker's.
Baker set up her classmate for a match-high 23 kills, including 10 in the final set.
"I tell you what, I thought Rian did a fantastic job of setting Rylen, especially late in the match," Pinley said. "We had a few balls that were out of system and Rian made those out-of-system balls look like three balls. She just set them so well that Rylen was able to connect."
Fremd built a 24-16 lead in Set 1 before Hersey made a valiant comeback, staving off 7 set points before the Vikings won on a hitting error.
"They did a great job of closing in Set 1 and we hung on," Pinley said. "I thought we did a really nice job closing out Set 3. I think we stayed aggressive, which is something we keep preaching."
Set 2 was tied at 8, 9, 10, 15, 19, and 20 and 21 before the Huskies took the lead for good at 22-21 on a big crosscourt kill by Kati Kaburov.
An ace by Sydney Pape made it 23-21. Eshoo's 20-foot set parallel to the net to Kaboruv resulted in another kill by the Boston College recruit to make it 24-22. Eshoo's second attack tip ended the set at 25-22.
"Even though we lost that first set, it felt like we won because of our momentum and attitude and we carried that into Set 2," Lill said. "Then they caught fire and we struggled in the third set. They made plays and we made errors and unfortunately for us, that's the way it ended."
With the third set tied at 5, back-to-back kills by Breslin Reid sparked a 4-0 run. Claudie Wala followed with one of her 3 block kills and Rylen Reid put down a back row kill to make it 9-5. Hersey never got closer than 3 points.
"The difference in the third set is that when we got that 3-point lead we didn't let Hersey make that big run," Pinley said. "That's something we talk about all the time."
Breslin Reid finished with 6 kills, 6 aces and 25 digs while teammates Izzy Segoviano had 14 digs and Deme Yianas 9.
Hersey (29-9) was led on attack by Kaburov (15 kills), Nora Zielke (9), Janine Boyan (3) and Juliette van den Herik (3).
Maddie Mullin played terrific in the back row with 19 digs, She suffered a concussion in the MSL title match and had not played until Monday night.
"Maddie was incredible," Lill said. "We've played so many matches the last two weeks without her which really affected us preparing for the postseason. She didn't start practicing until last Friday.
"It was great to have her back but I think it hurt us not all being together for a while. And Kate Lubbe sprained her ankle on Saturday so she was basically playing on one foot which limited what she could do. Being a senior we had to give her a shot because she means so much to the team. Kati (Kaburov) was phenomenal. She did everything she could for the team. She has done that for four years. How do you replace that?"
And eight other seniors will graduate.
"Every one of them gave every ounce they had," Lill said. "What a group of seniors. It's tough to see them go. It was such a special class. They've all achieved so much in this program. I told them to walk away with their heads high and be proud for everything they accomplished."