Girls volleyball: Mother McAuley topples Benet in 3 to win Class 4A state title
NORMAL - Just like last season, Benet and Mother McAuley hooked up again in the final match of the volleyball season in the Class 4A state championship.
And for the Mighty Macs, the 2023 script led to another memorable result.
Mother McAuley added to its storied legacy, capturing its record 17th state championship late Saturday night with a 25-22, 18-25, 25-16 victory over Benet in the 4A state final at CEFCU Arena.
The silver lining in the defeat for the Redwings is they return the majority of their key players.
"These kids gave 100 percent and were all in," Benet coach Brad Baker said. "It's really hard. It hurts, when you are 100 percent in and this is the result. It's tough. These kids worked so hard to be here. These kids worked hard in the offseason, but if they continue to work, (next) season is going to be great for them. Right now, it's hard to see that."
The Mighty Macs, who defeated Benet 25-22, 17-25 and 25-14 in last season's title match, set the tone by steamrolling out to leads of 13-10 and 23-17. The Redwings answered back by slicing the deficit to 19-17 on consecutive kills by Lynney Tarnow. Benet's Audrey Asleson added a kill and a block to stop another uprising, then she delivered a kill to bring the Redwings to 24-22 until a service error gave the Mighty Macs (38-4) the first-set victory.
The Redwings (39-3) immediately went to work in the second set to silence the large and loud contingent of Mother McAuley fans. Led by Aubrey Asleson's big hitting, the Redwings possessed leads of 3-0, 6-2 and 12-8 but the Mighty Macs reeled off a big run to tie the game at 13-all.
The Redwings, aided by an ace from Ellie Stiernagle, jumped back to a 17-14 advantage. Tarnow's kill gave the Redwings a 19-17 edge that grew to 23-17. Audrey Asleson, a Colorado recruit, sent the match into a third set with a highlight-reel kill.
The Mighty Macs were intent on avenging their regular season defeat to Benet, storming out to advantages of 5-1 and 14-6 in the third set. Asleson, who led her team with 17 kills, tried to keep the Mighty Macs from rolling to an easy win with several big plays, but nothing was stopping the state powerhouse on this late night. Aniya Warren paced Benet with 22 digs, while Stiernagle managed 36 assists and Tarnow netted 13 kills. Gabby Stasys finished with 5 kills in the defeat. Ellie White sparked Mother McAuley with 18 kills and 8 digs and Peyton Heatherly amassed 32 assists and 13 digs.
"McAuley played great," Baker said. "They looked like a team that has won a championship and looked like a team that has been here three years in a row. They did a great job, so give credit to McAuley for looking like a team that has been here before."