Joliet Catholic’s Morgan Stenson had all the motivation she needed.
For that matter, all the Angels did. They want to keep playing.
“It’s mostly seniors on the floor for us, and we start thinking that this could be our last match,” Stenson said. “It could be our last time playing. We come together, and we play for each other.”
Gutting its way through a sluggish effort, Joliet Catholic pulled out a 25-16, 25-21 win Tuesday night over Nazareth in a Class 3A Glenbard South Sectional semifinal.
The Angels advance to play rival Wheaton St. Francis 7 p.m. Thursday for the sectional title.
For coach Christine Scheibe, though, it was a case of win and move on, nothing else.
“Absolutely no energy on the court or the bench (Tuesday),” Scheibe said. “We’re not going to beat a team like St. Francis if we bring no energy. We got the job done.”
Morgan Reardon (14 kills, 11 digs), Stenson (four kills, seven digs), Mallory Mangun (27 assists), Julia Shemaitis (four kills) and Dana Nowaczyk (eight digs) led Joliet Catholic (32-6).
After falling behind in Game 1, the Angels were able to shake off their errors, closing on an impressive 17-6 run. Reardon’s six kills helped provide the spark.
Looking for revenge due to a loss in September to Joliet Catholic, Nazareth gave up nothing easy in Game 2. The Roadrunners, though, were hamstrung by their own mistakes, committing nine errors in the game.
Stenson and Co. responded in a back-and-forth contest. She, Shemaitis, Reardon and Nowaczyk all had a kill off a 21-17 advantage.
“We know we have to go up strong (to hit),” Stenson said. “We have to protect our defense with blocks and put the ball away when we can, especially when the set is there. We need everyone to put their game together.”
Emily Milligan (11 digs), Samantha Brown (four kills), Kathryn Slunecko (14 assists), Julia Saunders (six kills) and Mariah Rouse (three kills) led the Roadrunners (23-14).
“We had a game plan, but we didn’t quite execute it,” Nazareth coach Wayne Saunders said. “We wanted to get the blockers over more on Reardon, but we weren’t able to do that like we could. We ended up getting caught in a couple of rotations where we just couldn’t pass.”