SOUTH ELGIN – Heather Dorniden is not a volleyball player, but she still played an inspirational role in St. Charles North’s victory over Wheaton North in the Class 4A South Elgin Girls Volleyball Regional championship match Thursday night.
The North Stars (29-5) rallied from an eight-point deficit in the third and decisive game to down the Falcons, 25-19, 24-26, 26-24.
St. Charles North led the second game, 24-17, but Wheaton North (23-15) scored the next nine points to force Game 3. The Falcons continued their roll by scoring the first seven points of the final game. The scoring spree prompted a timeout from St. Charles North coach Lindsey Hawkins, who reminded her players of the story of Dorniden, a track star in the last decade for the University of Minnesota.
“We watched maybe a very timely, inspirational video today about a girl from Minnesota who was running in the Big Ten championships and fell, but then came back to win the race,” Hawkins said. “So we talked about how it was all about belief in herself and how she believed that she could do it. And so that’s what we said in the timeout. We just need to believe.”
Dorniden fell in the middle of the 600-meter finals at the 2008 Big Ten Indoor Championships, but in a tremendous display of guts and determination, ran down the field to win the race at the wire.
“We really just didn’t want to end our season on a bad note,” St. Charles North middle blocker Sophia DuVall said. “We wanted it so badly and I feel like it was kind of one of those mind over matter things.”
DuVall had 10 kills in the match, including four in the opening game.
“Obviously our outsides, the Krage sisters [Taylor and Daley] are pretty key, but some teams will tend to hone in on them if we go to them a lot,” North Stars setter Sydney Wohlert said. “Our sophomore and right sides are stepping up huge, Claire [Anderson] and Jaclyn Taylor, but also our middles. I pulled them aside before and said, ‘This is your game. They have shorter middles than us, so if you get up there, I’ll give you the ball.’ ”
St. Charles North seemed in control of the second game, taking a 24-17 lead on a Daley Krage block, one of six kills she had on the night. But a Grace Tiesman block started the 16-point run by the Falcons.
“We were really frustrated,” Wohlert said. “But we’ve been fighters all season. That’s what we’ve been known for, is having resilience and being able to come back in key moments.”
The Wheaton North string finally ended with a couple of hitting errors. The Falcons still led 10-2, when DuVall scored in the middle, the first kill for the North Stars in 21 points.
“As a hitter, I just really like to take advantage of every ball Syd gives me, just because as a middle it’s kind of harder to get set all the time,” DuVall said. “We all work so hard in practice. We’re like a family. We don’t want to let each other down.”
DuVall’s kill started a rally of eight straight points for St. Charles North that tied the game. Alex Seavey had a pair of ace serves during the run.
The game went back and forth after that, but Taylor Krage came alive down the stretch, notching five of her 13 kills in the final game, including one that put St. Charles North up, 25-24. She came up with a key block on the next point that Wheaton North could not return.
Emily Carroll had seven kills for the North Stars, including a pair of blocks in the middle. Wohlert recorded 25 assists.
Maddie Hutchinson registered a dozen kills for the Falcons and Amanda Mordacq had five blocks. Falcon libero Erica Walker came up with 17 digs.