Girls Volleyball: Marist Edges Sandburg, Wins 2nd Straight Sectional Title
Trailing late in both games, RedHawks rally for 28-26, 26-24 victory to move on to supersectional showdown with Lyons.
All year long, Marist coach Natalie Holder has preached to her team to “relentlessly pursue the ball.”
Marist did exactly that on Thursday night against Sandburg.
Backed by a strong defense that got countless deflections at the net and made several key digs down the stretch, Marist edged Sandburg 28-26, 26-24 to win the Class 4A Andrew Sectional championship. It marks the second straight season that Marist has won the sectional title.
“They’re a great team all around and they did come out strong,” Marist outside hitter Mallory Salis said. “We knew coming in it was going to be a battle … but we did what we had to do.”
Marist (33-6) twice lost to Sandburg (32-7) during the regular season, but the RedHawks wouldn’t be denied a third time.
The first game see-sawed at the start with neither team taking more than a two-point lead. But Sandburg’s Dakota Hampton had three straight kills and the Eagles went up 16-14 midway through game one.
With the help of three kills from Salis, Marist rallied to take nine of the next 12 points, forcing Sandburg to call its second timeout after Rachel Dalton’s ace gave Marist a 23-19 lead.
“She is a six-rotation threat,” Holder said of Salis. “She is a consistent leader and leads by her example. It’s hard to tell if her offense is better than her defense.”
Sandburg responded with four straight points to tie the match and had a chance to take the first game at 25-24. But Marist fought off two game points and Elyse Panick’s block at the net gave Marist the critical opening set.
Sandburg looked to rally and opened the second game with two straight aces from freshman Sammi Knight. Both teams were sharp defensively, generating long rallies and forcing the other to earn points consistently.
Neither team led by more than three points in game two, but the RedHawks looked to be in control when a hitting error by Sandburg followed a kill from Marist’s Kelly Marcinek, giving Marist a 23-20 lead. Once again Sandburg would rally, taking four of the next five points and knotting the game at 24-24 on a net violation.
Yet Marist was unrelenting. Salis came up with another big kill going cross-court from the left side, and Panick put down a free ball over the net to seal the win for Marist.
“Defense is a key factor to the game,” Salis said. “ ‘I want the ball, I don’t want someone to get a kill on me, I want the ball.’ That’s what we’re all thinking.”
Salis led Marist with 14 kills and 10 digs. Panick and Marcinek each had six kills.
Sandburg was led by Hampton and Kara Kentner with eight kills each.
Marist advances to Saturday’s Hinsdale South Supersectional, where it will face Lyons in a rematch of last year’s supersectional.
“We’re going to attack them with the same respect we’ve given every other team—really look at what they do, look at their strengths,” Holder said. “But the bottom line is really controlling our side of the net and what we do.”