Girls Volleyball: Marian Catholic edges out Illiana ChristianMarian Catholic's Iteanna McKenzie (12) hoists the winners trophy as teammate Nicole Manno (3) reacts after their team beat Illiana Christian during the girls sectional volleyball game on Thursday, Nov.3, 2011, in Chicago Heights, Il. | John Smierciak~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 3, 2011 8:31PM
When host Marian Catholic needed them most, Amber Clay got the Spartans there and Kelsey Clark did the rest, punching the team’s ticket to the Rich East Supersectional.
Clay had a match-high 12 kills and Clark had back-to-back kills to close out Marian’s 25-23, 25-21 win over Illiana Christian at Thursday’s Class 3A sectional final.
“It’s all a team thing,” Clay said. “It’s not an individual player who carries the team. We all depend on each other really well so we have a great balance.”
The sectional title was the program’s fourth overall and first since 2002. Colleen Rynne (24 assists), Clark (6 kills), Jasmine King (3 kills, 2 blocks) and Kendyl Todd (3 kills) all helped Marian (23-16) to the win.
Marian Catholic will play Payton Saturday at 7 p.m. at Rich East.
“I’m so proud of these girls, and where they’ve come from,” Marian Catholic coach Ryan Summers said. “Where we started the year, and where we’re playing now is totally different. Everybody dreams of winning a sectional title, but I don’t know if they believed. They obviously do now.”
Never dominant but always consistent, the Spartans turned to their super sophomore in Clay early. She did not disappoint, slamming seven kills in the first game. Todd’s lightly hit kill gave Marian the win.
Illiana Christian (25-13) trailed by as many as four points in the second game but cut the deficit to a point at 23-22.
Having watched the Vikings mount a furious comeback against Oak Forest in the semis, Clay and the Spartans refused to relinquish the lead.
“We didn’t want to underestimate this team, and we knew they could come back,” Clay said. “They wanted it just as much as we do so we’ve got to work twice as hard.”
Relatively quiet through both games, Clark more than made her presence felt. The freshman’s back-to-back kills closed things out for the Spartans.
Felicia Schaap had six kills, Jaclene Bonnema three kills and three blocks and Caroline Torren 14 assists for Illiana.
“We just made more errors than them,” Illiana coach Nikki Van Dyke said. “We had a great season, and we will truly miss this group of girls.”