Girls volleyball: Metea Valley downs Barrington to reach 4A championship
NORMAL -- The Metea Valley girls volleyball team is simply impervious to pressure at the end of a first-set postseason match.
Yet again on Friday night at Illinois State University in the final semifinal of the Class 4A state tournament, the collective fortitude of the historic crew came to the fore.
Seemingly at the mercy of Barrington, facing a 3-point deficit, Metea Valley rose to another level as the ever-important first set reached its conclusion. Metea Valley junior superstar Kira Hutson would seemingly require a thermal nuclear explosion to melt the ice in her veins.
Hutson rifled home a devastating kill to claim the first set, a nail-biting 2-point affair, and the Mustangs never looked back as their magical formula for playoff remains undefeated.
In its last three matches beginning with the Oswego sectional final, Metea Valley has escaped near-disaster only to pull out the first set and seemingly slide home in the nightcap.
Barrington found out the hard way the unconventional recipe for playoff glory for the Aurora school is intact.
Metea Valley will face state juggernaut Mother McAuley for the state title Saturday night after its 25-23 and 25-13 victory over the Fillies.
""We just play each point as its own little match," said Hutson, who had a match-high 10 kills. "We don't look at the score as being down. We look at a point at a time. It helps us focus on what to do next."
Regan Holmer is yet another resilient member of the Mustangs' team.
"We all know Kira is a game-time player," Holmer said. "She is going to show up for every point. We are really grateful to be in the position we are right now."
Barrington, making its first state appearance since the two-class system was discarded in the fall of 2006, was led by Jessica Horwath and Campbell Paris. But Metea Valley was on an even greater journey.
The Fillies' girls golf state championship to inaugurate the fall postseason campaign is inconceivable to Metea Valley.
Never since the school opened a decade-plus ago has the Aurora high school housed any state hardware.
For any sport, or either gender.
"They're a great team," Barrington coach Michelle Jakubowski said of the Mustangs. "They play great defense and pass really well. In the second set, not winning the first set really took a lot out of us."
Paris and Horwath were the Fillies' offensive leaders with 16 of the 23 kills Barrington mustered.
The former led the way with nine.
Metea Valley seized control as Annabelle Troy, Maura Pilafas, Halle Sullivan, Alabama-bound libero Morgan Rank and Holmer -- with Hutson playing the marquee role -- galvanized their emotions and talents to frame the unprecedented school achievement.