JOLIET – When a group of players has experienced the ups and downs that Joliet Catholic Academy’s girls volleyball team has faced this season, what’s the big deal if they had to deal with a little more adversity?
After winning the first set of Wednesday’s Class 3A Joliet Catholic Academy Sectional championship match against Providence Catholic, the Angels faced a big obstacle after falling behind, 12-4, in the second set to a team that had won on their court earlier this year.
But that didn’t prove too big of a hurdle to overcome as JCA went on an impressive 19-3 run that not only swung the momentum back in its favor but more importantly assured it of a second straight sectional title with a 25-21, 25-20 win over Providence.
The win advances the Angels (24-14) to the Hinsdale South Supersectional against De La Salle at 6 p.m. Friday. De La Salle beat Richards, 25-16, 25-14, in the Back of the Yards Sectional final. It was the 11th sectional title over the past 17 seasons for coach Christine Scheibe’s Angels. The Celtics (23-17) missed winning their first sectional title since 2001.
“We had a different lineup again tonight, but that’s just what we do this season,” Scheibe said. “Being through all of that adversity and playing the schedule that we have played, I have confidence in a lot of different players and a lot of different combinations to go out there and actually perform. We’ve been in this position since a lot of our girls were on the team last year and played in the sectional final, and they are able to draw on that experience, and we told them that they were the ones who know how to win in big situations like this.”
Providence used three kills from Juliana Warfield and aces from Abby Lab and Kailey Labuda to grab the eight-point cushion in the second set.
The Angels started closing the gap and moved ahead, 15-14, with Ryan Hinshaw (19 assists), Riley Hungate (14 digs) and Bella Ray (eight kills, two block kills) getting kills during a long service run by Kristen Leuszler. After an exchange of points, Hungate stepped behind the line and served up seven straight points to make it 23-15.
JCA, which had solid efforts from Erin O’Grady (10 digs) and Jillian Gray (seven kills), jumped out to a 12-6 advantage in the first set, but the Celtics battled back and closed to within 16-15 after kills from Izabela Gorys and Gillian Peterson.
The Angels answered with a nice service run by Hinshaw that featured a kill by Gray and an ace to expand the advantage to 21-15. Providence put together a short run thanks to kills from Peterson and Warfield before JCA ended the set with a kill by Ray.
“We would have never been able to do this a few weeks ago,” Ray said. “But the fact that we’ve played with so many lineups has really prepared us to be ready for anything.
“Two days ago, when Emily Wilson came out of the game everyone could tell how it shook us a little bit, but I think our team is special because of the way that we bounced back from that today. Our really tough schedule has helped prepare us with coming back when a team pushes us. Even when we were down, we knew that we could do it.”