Girls Volleyball: Ali Frantti rallies Richmond-Burton past Jacksonville in Class 3ARichmond-Burton celebrates their victory over Jacksonville during their volleyball state championship semi-final game at Redbird Arena in Normal, IL Friday, November 9, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 9, 2012 8:25PM
Normal, Ill. — Richmond-Burton had a little luck, and just too much Ali Frantti for Jacksonville.
The Penn State recruit had 22 kills and Richmond-Burton fought off two match points in Game 2 as the Rockets defeated Jacksonville 19-25, 27-25, 25-22 in a Class 3A state semifinal at Redbird Arena on Friday.
Richmond-Burton (37-4) trailed 24-22 in Game 2 when a kill from Frantti and a Jacksonville error tied the match at 24-24. Frantii and Jackonville’s 6-2 junior middle Jaelyn Keene (23 kills) exchanged kills, but another Frantti kill and a Jacksonville error forced a Game 3.
“I just wanted to play relaxed,” Frantti said. “I wanted to carry the team. I felt confident in my ability. It’s a matter of being confident and believing in yourself.”
A kill by Keene tied Game 3 at 20-20, but a service error by the Crimsons and a hitting error by Keene sparked a 4-0 run by the Rockets. Jacksonville (30-9) got within 24-22 before Frantti’s tip put the Crimsons away for good.
“Their middle (Keene) is amazing,” Frantti said. “But I’m really happy with my confidence. If I shanked the ball, I just brushed it off and went on to the next play.”
Kim Russell added 10 kills for Richmond-Burton, which also got 36 assists from Kara Russell and 20 digs from Marissa Woodward.
“Our game plan was to serve zones one and two and keep the ball out of the middle,” Richmond-Burton coach Kaycee Kaywood said. “Ali always comes up big for us, but it’s a team effort.
“We’re used to playing matches like this,” she added. “We had a couple of games in our regional and sectional that were really, really close. The girls know how to handle it.”
Ellie Hinton added eight kills for Jacksonville, which got 22 assists from Bentley Stewart and 16 assists from Sarah Thornley.
“We knew what we were up against with their outside hitter (Frantti),” Jacksonville coach Gary Hickox said. “We just didn’t make adjustments quick enough. If we tried to take away the line, she’d go crosscourt. If we took away the crosscourt, she’d just cut it harder.
“She’s one of the better one’s we’ve seen,” he added.
First-time finalist Richmond-Burton will face eight-time state champion St. Francis Saturday at 5:30 p.m. for the Class 3A state title.
“Our goal for the last three years has been to get here,” Kaywood said. “Once we got here, our goal was to get into the top two. We have another game to plan and we’ll go over our game plan and give it all we’ve got tomorrow.