Girls volleyball: WW South rallies by Huntley to win supersectional
For a program that had not been to state since 2002, what was one more minute?
That's how long the last point of Wheaton Warrenville South's 26-24, 25-23 victory over Huntley in the Class 4A Streamwood supersectional lasted Friday, an exhausting rally with both teams doing everything they could to keep the ball alive.
When it finally ended, with Huntley hitting into the net after the teams hit the ball back and forth 20 times, the Tigers had earned the title by staging two late rallies to steal both sets.
"Crazy," WW South coach Bill Schreier said. "To be able to pull that out is spectacular. You couldn't ask for too much more. It's kind of like a storybook. It was going back and forth, back and forth, a lot of misplays and then all of a sudden you get that last point and it falls your way."
Neither team played the last point, which lasted a minute and 10 seconds, that aggressively. WW South libero Darby Harris made two digs on Huntley's better chances to win the point.
"It was definitely tiring mentally and physically but it was so worth it," Harris said. "It was just endurance. We've been practicing so hard for this moment. All the extra time in the gym paid off and we pushed through the point."
"We just wanted it so bad," added outside hitter Zayna Meyer. "We just kept fighting and fighting. We were not going to let the ball drop."
Wheaton Warrenville South (32-8) will play Fremd at 7 p.m. Friday in the Class 4A state semifinals at Redbird Arena in Normal.
It's the Tigers' first appearance at state since taking fourth in Schreier's second season in 2002.
"It means everything," Schreier said. "It's been a long time coming. These girls weren't born the last time we were down there."
For the Red Raiders (34-6) it will be remembered as a match that got away, even more painful that they were so close to making it to state. Huntley lost leads of 24-23 in the first set and especially crushing 21-13 in the second.
"We made some mistakes," Huntley coach Karen Naymola said. "You could tell when the pressure started getting on us, I've always said we aren't the best team under pressure. When we are playing relaxed and playing our game we're a totally different team. Once that pressure got on us we kind of fell apart a little."
With large and loud turnouts from both schools, Huntley started the match fast, taking an 8-2 lead on a tip from Katelyn Bower.
WW South answered with an 11-1 run to go up 13-9 -- the largest lead it had in either set.
Huntley scored four straight to make it 13-13, and the set stayed tight from there with 14 ties and 3 lead changes. The Red Raiders took a 23-21 lead on a Kylie Jenkins kill and a Tigers hitting error, and they got a set point at 24-23 on Emma Konie's kill.
But the Tigers played the big points better all night, and kills by Meyer and Annika Barron put WW South up 25-24, then the Red Raiders hit long to close the set.
"I thought they had more energy and more fight than us and we didn't play as a team like we did the last couple games," Huntley senior Taylor Jakubowski said.
Still, it looked like the Red Raiders were on their way to a third set. They turned a 7-4 deficit into a 15-9 lead with an 11-2 surge led by 3 kills from Jenkins. Bower blasted a free ball for a kill and a 21-13 lead, but it was all WW South after that.
Consecutive kills by Lizzie Chiesa started WW South on a 12-2 run to end the match. Huntley hurt itself with a couple errors as the momentum turned, and Meyer tooled a shot off Huntley's block to pull even at 22 before a block kill by Ammons put the Tigers ahead.
A kill by Jenkins pulled Huntley even at 23. But Meyer's kill and then the long rally on match point ended Huntley's season.
Jakubowski, headed to Seton Hall, had 21 assists to unofficially finish her four years as Huntley's setter with 3,176 -- third most in state history according to the IHSA website. Jenkins had 11 kills, Konine 7 kills and libero Josie Schmitendorf 18 digs.
"Their hitters were being smart, they weren't crushing every ball, they were tipping and rolling," Schmitendorf said. "They are a good team, I have to give them credit. We just didn't come out strong tonight, we came out timid, we didn't play our best game. Supersectional you have to be on top of your game."
Meyer (9 kills, 9 digs), Ammons (5 kills, 2 blocks), Barron (6 kills, 2 aces), Harris (16 digs), Sarah Burau (24 assists, 7 digs) and Chiesa (6 kills, 6 digs) paced the Tigers.
"We never had any doubt that we could come back," Harris said. "Not having that doubt was what made us able to make such a good comeback. This means the world for all of us because it's been so long since it happened. We're all so excited to be at state."