Photo by Jeff Vorva
Marist players start to form a pile after winning the IHSA Class 4A State Girls Volleyball title on Saturday night.
NORMAL – This was supposed to be Minooka’s year in girls volleyball.
That was in the script.
Minutes after Minooka dropped a wild 25-19, 19-25, 25-19 decision to Mother McAuley in the Class 4A state championship in 2016, Minooka was scheduled to return some heavy-duty weapons and was anointed as the state and national power.
So this was Minooka’s year.
The problem is, no one told Marist that. Or if they did, they weren’t listening.
Marist never got the memo and never paid attention to the hype.
Even on Aug. 26, when Minooka was ranked No. 2 in the nation by Max Preps, and the Indians beat the RedHawks 25-20 in the first set of the semifinals at the Plainfield North Tournament, Marist just didn’t get it. The Redhawks came back and won 25-15, 25-18.
Well, that was then.
On Saturday night, the two teams went to war again and after splitting the first two sets, Minooka was ready to grab that state championship after taking an 8-4 lead in the third game.
Once again, Marist couldn’t follow the script.
The RedHawks went on an amazing 18-4 blitz to top the Indians 22-25, 25-22, 25-15 to win the first girls state volleyball title in school history.
“This is awesome how it all played out.” said senior hitter Savannah Thompson, who had six of her 14 kills in that 18-4 explosion. “When we were down 8-4, honestly I thought we needed to keep pushing and play like Marist volleyball and win like Marist volleyball.’’
After years of having strong teams only to make the state tournament once (a fourth-place finish in 2011), this win was huge. The RedHawks finished 40-1 and were 11-0 in three-set decisions. They won 32 in a row after a 25-20, 25-17 loss to Mother McAuley on Sept. 12.
The players enjoyed the moment and soaked in the adulation from the several hundred fans who made the trip.
“Honestly, this is a moment that every player wishes for,” Thompson said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime dream come true.’’
“I seriously feel like I’m not even in real life right now – it feels like I’m in a dream,” setter Molly Murrihy said. “This is one of the greatest feelings someone in my position could ever have.’’
Maggie Meyer added nine kills and Camryn Hannah six. Thompson and Grace Green each had 13 digs and Natalie Davidson and Murrihy each had eight. Kate Hogan had six blocks. Murrihy had 32 assists. The match had 19 ties and nine lead changes.
Second-year coach Jordan Vidovic said his team has been playing with grit all season.
“We didn’t waver too high or too low,’’ the coach said. “There were points in the match when we didn’t play our best. Minooka’s block is one of the biggest out there. We were able to stay even keel and grind it out. We’ve been in those situations before and our senior leadership carried us through.’’
If there were any concerns Marist would hit Redbird Arena with a hangover-effect from beating defending state and national champ Mother McAuley in supersectional play in an intense match in front of 2,500 fans on McAuley’s court on Nov. 3, those concerns were stifled right away.
The RedHawks stormed out and whipped Crystal Lane Central in the first set of the semifinals 25-14 and owned a 20-13 lead in the second set Friday night before the Tigers furiously rallied. The RedHawks had to sweat out a 25-23 win in the final set.
Thompson had nine kills, Meyer added seven and Murrihy had 20 assists. Green recorded 11 digs.