By Steve Robinson | November 17, 2019 - 10:42 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, U-High

NORMAL – It wasn’t the finish University High School’s Volleyball team sought, but the Pioneers did exit Illinois High School Association State Volleyball Tournament at Redbird Arena Saturday with something to add to their trophy case. After a two-set loss to LaGrange Park-based Nazareth Academy, 25-21 and 25-22 at Redbird Arena, the Pioneers placed 4th and added a seventh Volleyball trophy for the school.

Game one had scoring going back and forth between the two sides for a 5-all tie before U-High (33-7) moved in front 8-5 with senior outside hitter Alyanna Crabtree serving, a ball-handling error by Angels junior outside hitter Isabel Decker and kills from U-High senior setter Isobel Schaefbauer and freshman outside hitter Lily Barry. The Pioneers managed to stay in front of the Angels, 12-8, as a result of kills by Schaefbauer and Barry, before turning the serve over to the Angels on a Schaefbauer service error.

U-High was up, 14-12 when Angels middle hitter Elizabeth Sandt’s serving ace and a kill by sophomore outside hitter Kathryn Hurta tied the game. The Angels took a 15-14 lead courtesy of a Sandt kill, and the game would knot at 15-all on a kill from U-High sophomore middle hitter Chloe Clayton. But a Burk service error from the Pioneers would give Nazareth Academy a 16-15 lead upon which to build on toward their first victory. The Pioneers would come within three, 23-20, thanks to a Schaefbauer service ace and a Hurta attack error, but a service ace from junior outside hitter Allison Surowiec and an attack error from U-High’s Barry would seal the first win for the Angels.

With Decker serving, game two started with Nazareth Academy(28-8) owning a quick 4-0 lead before U-High scored their first point thanks to an attack error by Hurta. Two straight attack errors by Crabtree pushed that lead to 6-1 before Pioneers Head Coach Mike Bohuis called for a timeout. But even after that, the game was a chase, with the Angels maintaining their lead while the Pioneers were in pursuit.

A service ace by Crabtree brought the Pioneers as close as two, 18-16, and a pair of Schaefbauer kills, got U-High within one, 19-18, before a kill by Decker started the Angels off toward a final scoring streak to take the match and claim third place.

At her team’s postgame news conference, Nazareth Academy head coach Melissa Masterson gave a nod to U-High’s one of tallest players for her performance against her players saying Pioneers junior middle hitter Maycie Wellborn, at 6 foot-3, made sure the Angels team would know who was trying to make their attempt to win third place difficult. The other six foot plus players on green and gold are 6 foot-2 Crabtree, 6 foot-1 junior middle hitter Jaelyn Sorenson, and 6 foot junior setter Kendall Burk.

In the two-game match, U-High registered 25 kills to Nazarene Academy’s 23, with Schaefbauer’s 12 leading the way. She also had 33 take aways and 8 assists to lead the Pioneers. Sandt and sophomore middle blocker Gillian Grimes led the Angels’ defense with 15 and 12 digs, respectfully. Crabtree scored two serving aces for the Pioneers. Decker and Hurta led the Angels in kills with 11 and 10, respectfully. Defensively, Crabtree and senior middle blocker Logan Murray led U-High in digs with 13 and 11 respectfully.

“I just wanted to have fun with my teammates seeing as it was our last game,” said Angels junior outside hitter Isabel Decker.

Bohuis had a brief meeting with his team following the loss and told reporters, “We just got done talking about how our season isn’t defined by going 0-2 at State, but that it’s defined by ownership, and we’re hoping the team owns the entirety of the season more so than trying to own these last two matches.

“It’s a challenge making it to State,” Bohuis said. “It’s not just easy. So, the fact they were good enough to make it here says something special. It’s a journey and we’re just proud of how they went about that journey. It’s something to bring home a 4th place State trophy.”

Bohuis said with his seniors leading the way, he was proud of how his players conduct themselves, not just in game and practice situations, but in their classwork and in respecting fellow students, as well.

Bohuis credited Decker and Hurta with “doing a good job and the job they did defensively. “I thought that was the hardest we’ve had to work offensively trying to score against them.”

Pioneers Lose Close Matches To Joliet Catholic In Semis: The Pioneers found themselves in the 3rd place game after finding themselves having to pursue Joliet Catholic throughout the semifinal against the Angels, who won the contest in two games, 25-23 and 25-20. In game one, the teams exchanged points, tying the score at 11-all. But from there with Burk serving, U-High pushed ahead 14-11 thanks to a kill by Crabtree and an attack error each by Joliet Catholic senior middle hitter Bella Ray and outside hitter Riley Hungate.

That scoring surge prompted Joliet Catholic head coach Christine Schiebe to call time. Following that timeout, a kill by Ray and a pair of Pioneers attack errors tied the game at 14-all. From there, kills from Schaefbauer and Clayton and a service ace by Crabtree pushed the Pioneers in front, 17-14. The Angels responded in kind with a pair of kills from junior outside hitter Julian Gray, a service ace from senior setter Erin O’Grady, pushing Joliet Catholic in front, 18-17.

A kill by Gray got the Angels serving serving again and the Angels were able to add points as a result of another Gray kill and a trio of attack errors committed by Barry, Schaefbauer, and Clayton. That gave Joliet Catholic a 22-17 lead. A kill each by junior middle hitter Emily Surin for Joliet Catholic and Schaefbauer for U-High kept the Angels lead up, 23-18, before a trio of attack errors from Gray aided the Pioneers’ efforts, allowing U-High to come within two, 23-21. Another Gray attack error allowed U-High to come within one, 23-22, before a kill each from Barry and Gray led to the final score.

Game two was a tight contest at first, with Joliet Catholic holding off the Pioneers, 9-7 before going on four point run thanks to a pair of attack errors by Schaefbauer and a kill for Joliet by senior middle hitter Bella Ray and service ace by Surin, putting the Angels up, 13-7. The Angels also held off the Pioneers with another scoring run featuring as kill by Ray and attack errors by Joliet to stay in front of the Pioneers, 16-10. A kill by Welborn assisted by Schaefbauer, helped U-High close within five, 16-11.

Kills by Burk and Crabtree aided in U-High coming within four, 17-13, and attack errors by the Angels helped U-High come within three, 18-15, before Pioneers attack errors and a service ace by Gray helped Joliet Catholic aim toward a 22-16 lead.

Kills by Surin and Hungate were surrounded by Pioneers errors in the final moments of the contest led to the final score.

During the two set match, U-High registered a total of 23 kills, 23 errors, and 80 take aways. Joliet Catholic registered a total of 21 kills, 13 errors, and 80 take aways.

The loss put the Pioneers in the third place game with a record of 33-7 while Joliet Catholic advanced to a 26-14 mark.

As a result, of the win, the Angels will take on Joliet Catholic, the team they lost to at State last year. “Obviously, our goal was to get to the State Championship, and now our goal is to play our best and do our best to win that match,” stated Angels Head Coach Christine Schiebe, adding her team lost last year in two games to the team they would take on for the title, Sterling High School. “I think we’re ready and prepared as we can be for that match.

Schiebe admitted she didn’t “intentionally over-scout” the Pioneers prior to the match. “I just gave the girls very few basics of what would happen on the court. I didn’t want to overload my girls with ‘this is what they are doing here’ and ‘this is what they are doing there.’ I just wanted to go out and play our game.”

“I’m proud of how my girls played throughout the entirety of that match,” U-High’s Bohuis said. He added the team talks numerous times about maintaining composure throughout a match, whether things are or aren’t going well. He said he thought his girls did well in that respect during this contest. “The contest came down to a couple of service runs they went on, a couple rotations. The game was a credit to Joliet Catholic. I thought they played great defense. They made things tricky for us offensively.”

Of his players, Bohuis added, “Experience is a big factor here. But our girls came out and they were playing hard and in the right way from the very beginning, so, I am proud of them for that.”

Despite the outcome, Schaefbauer echoed her coach’s comments about how well the girls did not letting Joliet’s leads get to them. “We still have another match Saturday and ending your season on a win is a lot better than ending it on a loss. I think that’s something we’ve reminded our teammates about, and hopefully we can remember that going in that game.”

Burk summed up what the team as a whole had in mind as they got ready to face the Roadrunners. “Obviously, it was very hard losing this match. But tomorrow, we want to go out and win it for our coaches who have put so much into our season. We want to win it for our seniors and win it for each other.”

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