59ers take Rensslear sectional
Updated: October 22, 2011 10:47PM
RENSSELAER — When first-year Andrean coach Julie Wiejak met her 10 seniors for the first time this summer, she said they made it clear to her they had some big aspirations, perhaps even a state title.
Well, the 59ers have taken the first step, winning the Rensslear sectional with a hard-fought 3-0 (26-24, 25-21, 25-21) win over Kankakee Valley.
It wasn’t easy. The Kougars actually were the aggressor for much of first two matches, but when it came time for a big stop, or a big spike to shut down a long series of volleys, Andrean’s senior dominated team came through.
And Shelby Stickler was often the girl that stepped up big.
“Shelby is one of our emotional leaders, and when she’s looking at (her teammates) with that ‘face’, she’s got their attention,” Wiejak said.
Stickler finished 19 kills in the championship match, and she added 10 digs and two blocks.
The last two years, Knox came out as sectional champion. Stickler didn’t want to see anyone but her team carry home the championship trophy.
“My team has dreamt about this so long, the fact that is here, it is so real, absolutely amazing, it just means so much.,” Stickler said.
Fellow senior, setter Ana Nicksi, who had 31 assists in the championship, was often who set Stickler up for explosive spikes that were just too well placed for the Kougars to stop.
“Our team chemistry, playing together for four years means we (work well together),” said Nicksi. “Shelby really brought her A game tonight. KV, they’re such a great, great opponent.”
Kougar coach Rick Ashmore admitted that it is difficult to play such an experienced team.
“It was our sophomores playing seniors,” he explained. “Our girls played so well, but not being able to close really hurt us.
Gabrielle Martin finished an outstanding tournament for Kankakee Valley, which closed their season at 21-15. Hailey Ruesken had eight kills, Camille Webster added six and Martin three. Martin had eight digs, Alexandria Eggert had 14 digs, Webster nine and Martin eight.
Andrean will travel to Griffith for Tuesday’s 3A regional.