We’re smack-dab in the middle of a football playoff weekend, but Thursday night’s slate of girls volleyball regional championship matches shouldn’t fade into the background without one more, appreciative look back.
Wow, was that something.
This might seem like blasphemy to all the football-lovers out there, but Thursday might have been the single-most dramatic night of high school sports we’ll see all fall.
Of the seven area girls volleyball teams involved in regional championship matches Thursday, six of the seven went to a decisive Game 3.
Just among the Tri-Cities teams alone, the storylines and emotional swings were tremendous.
At the IHSA Class 4A Addison Trail Regional final, Batavia won Game 1 over archrival Geneva and led Game 2, 22-20, before a young-but-talented Vikings team showed great poise in rallying to win the second game and, eventually, the match.
St. Charles North won Game 1 of its South Elgin Regional final versus Wheaton North before astonishingly coughing up a 24-17 lead in Game 2. The Falcons continued their mega-surge by jumping to a 7-0 lead in the third game, but just when it looked like the North Stars were in complete meltdown mode, North steadied itself and took the rubber game, 26-24.
And St. Charles East wasn’t to be outdone in the goosebump competition, rallying from a 23-21 deficit in Game 3 against host York to win 25-23 and move on to sectionals.
Veteran Saints coach Jennie Kull said at the start of the season she doubted her team had the firepower to measure up with North and Geneva this season. But now owning a 31-6 record, a co-Upstate Eight Conference River championship with North and a regional title, Kull’s contention that East is an underdog at the Geneva Sectional next week is up for debate.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this group of girls because of the fact that maybe we’re not the most powerful team but they came together as a unit and as a family,” Kull said. “They’ve really believed they can be good.
“I think that’s what pushed them over [against York], too, is the fact they’re a really cohesive group that enjoys playing together.”
Tuesday’s sectional semifinals at Geneva should be a blast, with the host Vikings gunning for top-seeded Glenbard West and crosstown East and North comprising the nightcap of the high-powered doubleheader.
As promising of a slate as that is, no way can we expect Tuesday to match what transpired Thursday.
That was a once-in-a-season kind of night, and fortunately for most of our area teams, it ended with celebrations.
One more girls volleyball thought – St. Francis’ three-game win against Montini on Thursday netted legendary coach Peg Kopec’s program a 24th straight regional championship.
A school that sustains success like that – especially a private school – is often going to foster a degree of resentment, but even those who generally root against the Spartans have to respect what Kopec has built, and maintained.
If there’s any statistic to come out of Thursday more awe-inspiring than the matches themselves, St. Francis’ 24 straight regional crowns would be it.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.