Girls volleyball: Fremd tops Libertyville to reach Final Four
Curt Pinley had to cancel a singing engagement with his rock band in Friday's District 211 Battle of the Bands fundraiser on Friday night.
The Fremd girls volleyball coach had other business to attend to.
Instead, he was the one listening to music on the Fremd loudspeaker system when his fine-tuned Vikings celebrated one of their biggest wins in program history.
Led by the Reid sisters -- sophomore Rylen had 14 kills and senior Breslen added eight -- Fremd won its own Class 4A supersectional with a 25-17, 25-22 triumph over Libertyville in Palatine.
The Vikings (36-4) will face Wheaton Warrenville South (32-8) in the first semifinal at 7 p.m. at Illinois State's Redbird Arena next Friday.
It marks Fremd's first visit to the state girls volleyball finals since coach Dave Boze's 1987 team, which coincidentally also defeated Libertyville in the supersectional.
"It hasn't hit me yet," said Breslen Reid, whose father Kyle is the assistant coach for Benet, which plays Marist in the second state semifinal. "I'm just as shocked as everyone else.
"It's been a dream of mine since I was about eight years old and went downstate with my sister and Rian (Baker, whose father Brad is the Benet head coach) to watch our father's Benet team. I can't believe now I'm going there to play."
Fremd jumped ahead 4-0 and never looked back as Breslen Reid put down a kill on the match's first attack.
She then served three straight points, getting a kill from her sister, her own tip kill and a block by sophomore Claudia Wala.
Libertyville (28-11) got to within 10-9 but shortly after Fremd extended the lead to 20-13 with four straight points from Izzy Segoviano.
Set 2 was tighter as Libertyville pulled ahead for the first time at 19-18 on a kill by senior Cassidy Jones.
The set was tied at 20 when Fremd pulled away with three straight points (kills by Rylen Reid and Cassie Seaver, and a hitting error) to take a 23-20 advantage.
Seaver put down another big kill to make it 24-21.
Moments later, Baker (26 assists) ended the match at 25-22 on a second attack.
"Cassie Seaver (5 kills) stepped up huge tonight," Pinley said. "In set two, she put those balls away at crucial times where we needed it to make that final run. I thought she did a phenomenal job."
"This is awesome," said Seaver, a first-year varsity player. "Actually it doesn't even feel real. I thought everyone came out ready to play."
Along with her 14 kills, Rylen Reid also had 15 digs.
"We just struggled stopping No. 13 (Rylen Reid)," said Libertyville coach Greg Loika. "She is a great hitter. She can go a lot of places and really elevate. That was challenging for our defense and block.
"I thought when we were getting block touches and defending their off-speed stuff, we were in it. But when we didn't stop their first swing, obviously that was the end of the point."
The Wildcats' attack was led by junior Kellie Hopper (5 kills), junior Ella Schaffnit (4 kills), Jones (3 kills) and freshman Keira Kasten (3 kills).
Ole Miss recruit Peyton O'Brien, a junior, handed out 16 assists with 6 digs while junior Olivia Sauers had 10 digs and 2 aces.
"It was such a good season and everyone played so well every match," O'Brien said. "We are so incredibly proud of what we've done. We're going to miss Cassidy (senior starting middle hitter) next year. But we know how good we can be. We're going to make sure we make another run at going down state next year."
"It's really disappointing because we've been playing so well," Sauers added. "And we were so excited for tonight. I guess it just wasn't our night.
"But I'm so exited for next year. It's going to be almost the same team so I can't wait for next season to get started. We have so much potential."
Loika said the Wildcats will use the supersectional experience as a learning tool.
"Obviously, in that moment, watching them hoist the championship trophy, we said that's where we want to be," Loika said. "But someone has to win and even thought we had some moments, there's no doubt Fremd was the better team tonight.
"We learned a lot this year and won't hear any messaging that makes a lot of sense right now. But winning a sectional title took a lot of effort. You want to go out losing to a team that beats you and you not beating yourself, and I think that's what happened tonight."