Tears of a crown -- Macs aim for 15th state title

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Photo by Jeff Vorva

Mother McAuley players had a huge crying session after three days of intense volleyball action, which culminated with an emotional three-set victory over Geneva on Saturday at the Hinsdale South Sectional. 


The tears flowed freely on Saturday.

We’re not talking the usual couple of tears of joy of winning a big match that can be wiped away easily. We’re talking tears running down red faces that are usually reserved for those who lost a big match. And this was going on for more than 15 minutes, for crying out loud.

After the Mighty Macs won the Illinois High School Association Class 4A Hinsdale South Supersectional crown with a wild 22-25, 25-20, 25-21 win over Geneva in front of a packed house, this team let loose with the waterworks.

“We haven’t been down state (since 2013) and our whole goal all year was to make it down state,” said Charley Niego, who led the Mighty Macs (38-1) with 12 kills and 17 digs. “It’s a really big accomplishment and we’re really excited. This is a really big thing and it finally occurred this year.’’

Carrying the weight and pressure of being ranked No. 1 in the nation by, beating heated rival Marist in the sectional final Thursday coming back twice in a 25-20, 25-22 victory and getting into holes of 21-12, 17-14 and 11-4 each game against national power Geneva (37-2) only to win took its toll emotionally on the Mighty Macs.

Next on the agenda is fighting a letdown as the Macs will be heavy favorites in the four-team field. They open with Niles West (28-8) at 8:30 p.m., Friday at Redbird Arena on the campus of Illinois State University in Normal. The winner takes on either Minooka (34-6) or Stevenson (32-7).

McAuley won 13 state titles from 1977-2004 including six from 1980-87. Its last title came in 2013 after a nine-year layoff. The 14 titles are the most in state history in the sport.  

Katie O’Connell added 11 kills, 15 digs and four blocks against Geneva while Emma Reilly racked up four aces and 11 digs and Nancy Kane had 31 assists and added three blocks.

In other Elite Eight action on Saturday, Queen of Peace’s reign came to an end at the Class 3A Rich East Supersectional 25-10, 25-6 at the hands of Marian Catholic. The Pride finished the season 15-22 and made it that far after a 25-14, 25-3 win over Cristo Rey to win the Cristo Rey Sectional on Thursday. Haley Doyle had 18 kills while Katie Cerven had 19 digs.

To get to the supersectional, McAuley needed 17 kills from Niego against Marist while Kane had 23 assists and O’Connell came up with six kills and Reilly had 10 digs.

For Marist (30-10), Savannah Thompson had nine kills and 12 digs and setter Molly Murrihy had 23 assists.

Marist may have played its best volleyball of the season in the sectional semifinal on Nov. 1 by opening play with an 18-4 lead and knocking off Benet, 25-13, 25-22. Megan Krasowski had eight kills and Maggie Meyer added seven.