Girls volleyball: Warren holds off Huntley in Class 4A sectional semifinal
About the time it made sense for Warren to panic - trailing by two points midway through the third set - the Blue Devils instead chose to remain calm.
But when Maddie Wojdyla tipped match point over the next to an open spot on the floor, the Blue Devils understandably went a little crazy.
Warren (26-10) came back from a second-set thumping and outscored Huntley, 12-5, in the final stretches of the deciding set to defeat the Red Raiders, 25-22, 15-25, 25-20, in the Class 4A Huntley sectional semifinals.
The victory sends the Blue Devils to Wednesday's title match against Libertyville (29-9), which defeated Hononegah, 25-8, 25-17 in the night's first match. The title game will be the third meeting between Libertyville and Warren. The Wildcats won both of the previous meetings.
Huntley held a 15-13 advantage in the third set after a powerful kill from junior Georgia Watson (15 kills). But the Blue Devils rallied behind Illinois State-bound Ruth Ziegler and junior Lauren Schilz to pull even at 15. The match remained tight and was knotted at 18 before Warren scored five straight points - two kills and a tip from Schilz - for a 23-18 lead.
"That's just what we do. We've been in pressure situations like this before. We prepare for moments like that," said Ziegler, who came into the match with 320 kills on the season. "It's what we needed after that second set (loss). We felt like we had nothing to lose and we were going to leave it all there on the court. Now we get a third chance at Libertyville and hopefully the third time's the charm."
Huntley (31-7) played through the loss of senior middle blocker Avery Gonzalez, who left the contest with an injury just minutes into the first set.
"You practice for all types of situations, but one of the things you don't plan for is injuries," Huntley coach Karen Naymola said. "We were definitely rattled, but we came back through that adversity. Georgia stepped up when we needed her and we were finally able to get Morgan (Jones) into the flow. That's helped us come back."
Neither team managed more than a three-point lead in the first set until Warren grabbed a 23-19 lead on a Huntley error. Ziegler, a 6-3 senior, delivered the final two points on kills to end the set.
Huntley stormed back in the second set opening leads of 10-4 and 21-8 behind Jones (6 kills, 7 aces), Watson, and Sienna Robertson (6 kills). The Raiders recorded eight aces in that set. Warren responded by keeping the final set close until its late surge to secure the victory and advance further than any girls team in school history.
"These girls trust one another and they play for one another," Warren coach Yun Chen said. "What you saw out there is who they are. They're out there having fun. They played relaxed when it got close and they just played the game they love."