Girls volleyball: St. Viator falls to powerful Belvidere North in supersectional

It wasn't as if St. Viator had a bad game or an off night Friday at the Woodstock North Class 3A girls volleyball supersectional.

Far from it.

The Lions played very well, actually, but fell victim too a way too tough opponent playing at the top of its game.

Belvidere North defeated Viator 25-14, 25-22, but consider what they Lions were up against.

The Blue Thunder came in to the contest with a 37-2 record; they had gone to 3 sets in only 3 of those matches; and their only losses came to powerhouses Barrington and Mother McAuley, both Class 4A Final Four teams.

Added to that, Belvidere North was an experienced playoff team, having lost a heartbreaking 3-set match to eventual Class 3A champion Sterling in 2019 (the last time the volleyball postseason was held.)

In other words, the deck was stacked against the Lions, but they didn't go down without a battle.

Viator made a stirring rally in the second set and almost extended the match before falling late.

"We knew coming in that they were a great team," said Lions senior Marie Torosian of the Blue Thunder. "We told ourselves that we had to give it everything we had. I am so extremely proud of all of our girls right now."

It turned out the be the final game for an outstanding group of 13 Lions seniors.

Senior starters for Viator Friday were Torosian, Lily LaFleur, Lauren Allaire, and Cailyn Harrington.

Other 12th graders on the roster who went out with their heads held high after the almost-made-it Set 2 comeback included Maya Olender, Julia Domagala, Haley Mills, Kylene Flood, Alexis Tomlin, Jennie Jarog, Anna Bartelt, Mia Parise and team manager Holly Shore.

"These seniors have worked hard for four years, weight room, off season, all of it," said Viator coach Charlie Curtin, "and they just continued to come out every day and fight, and put their best foot forward."

"They're some of the hardest working people I've ever seen," added Torosian of her classmates. "The thirteen of us, we went in to this season not knowing what to expect, and we've all become best friends. It's an amazing group."

Belvidere North excelled in all phases in its Set 1 win, especially on defense where libero Ireland Henry was playing lights out, digging every ball that came her way.

Viator trailed by 8 points in Set 2, but the momentum changed midway through when the Lions' own defensive specialist, Reanne Valera, made two outstanding digs that led to a side out.

The Lions kept rallying, and when 6-foot-1 junior middle Marcelina Gorny got a clutch block kill, the score stood at 24-22.

"We told ourselves (late in Set 2) that this is it, we've got to lay it all on the line," said Torosian. "We've got to give it everything we've got, point after point, and that's what we did."

The Lions had a final chance to stave off match point on a long rally, but the final bounce of the ball didn't go their way.

And despite another amazing, diving dig from Valera, Belvidere North got the final kill and the Blue Thunder faithful stormed the court, then continued their celebration with an impromptu victory parade in the Woodstock North parking lot.

But despite the loss, Curtin couldn't have been any more proud of his team.

"The girls fought the entire time tonight," said the coach, "but that's how they've been all year. No matter what happens, no matter what type of adversity they faced, they continued to fight.

"They were a fantastic team, they set a school record for wins (33), and I told the girls tonight after the game to just remember the positives."

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