Lemont coach Chris Zogata says her team plays better when it relaxes, but senior outside hitter Keily Rendak says the Indians are at their best when they get a little crazy.
Who’s right? Who cares.
Rendak had 11 kills, Kelly Ferguson had six kills, three blocks and three aces, and Megan Litoborski dished out 20 assists as Lemont (26-12) rallied from a first-set drubbing by Plainfield North to defeat the Tigers 15-25, 25-19, 25-21 in a semifinal of the Class 4A sectional at Neuqua Valley.
Lemont will play Benet, the state’s No. 1 team and the defending Class 4A state champion, in the sectional final at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday.
But for about 20 minutes Tuesday, it looked like Plainfield North would be the team advancing. The Tigers built leads of 8-1 and 13-3 in Game 1 before the Indians were able to string a few points together.
“We’ve sort of been like that all season long,” Zogata said. “I don’t know if it takes them awhile to warm up because we did that against Plainfield Central, we did that against Lockport, and we just did that tonight.
“I think then they settle, they sort of settle down for some reason,” she added. “They are able to relax and forget about the first game and just come out and build and build and build and keep playing and playing.”
Rendak, who was the sum total of Lemont’s offense in Game 1, begged to differ.
“The second and third games we got crazy and got excited, and we win when we’re having a lot of fun,” she said. “When we’re having more fun, we’re really into it.”
An ace by Cara Howell (four kills, three aces) gave Lemont the lead for good at 8-7 in Game 2, and Rendak’s kill to extend the Indians’ advantage to 11-6 in Game 3 provided all the momentum Lemont needed to advance to Thursday’s sectional finale.
“Point after point, we just got more excited,” Litoborski said. “If we got a block, it was a big deal for us, and I think after we got a lot of points in a row it just really got them down. I’m so happy, I can’t really explain it.”
Dakota Santore led Plainfield North (29-9) with eight kills, Lauren Robeck and Allie Lindroth each had seven and Kate Federico added 25 assists and two kills. Ali Lund added five kills for Lemont.