Girls Volleyball: St Charles East fends off Schaumburg

Updated: October 25, 2012 8:30PM

St. Charles East has played in so many high-pressure postseason matches over the past several years that the Saints have almost become inured to stress.

They demonstrated their collective cool Thursday night by rallying from six-point deficits in both sets to knock off host Schaumburg 25-23, 25-23 in a Class 4A regional final.

The regional championship was the seventh straight for St. Charles East (25-12), which will face Geneva in Tuesday’s Larkin Sectional semifinals.

“We talk about pressure all the time and we invite pressure,” St. Charles East senior setter Erienne Barry said. “We love it; it makes the game more fun. We love it and we handled it very well [tonight] and that’s the good part about it.”

The host Saxons (20-17) gave the Saints everything they could handle, leading both games 12-6. But led by Division I recruits Barry and Nicole Woods, St. Charles East prevailed despite not leading the first game until the final two points and the second just briefly early and late.

“[Schaumburg] did a wonderful job,” St. Charles East coach Jennie Kull said. “I’m pleased with our kids. I think they battled. We were struggling a little bit today, but fortunately we were able to get it together enough to pull through at the end.”

The Saxons led 23-21 in the opening set only to see the Saints score the last four points on kills from Emma Johnson and Mikaela Mosquera, a double-hit on the Saxons and a tip by Woods.

The second set was nearly a carbon copy of the first, with the Saxons seemingly in control with a 22-19 cushion. But the Memphis-bound Woods went to work, spiking two kills sandwiched around a Nicole Luczynski ace to tie it.

An Oyinkan Akinola tip gave Schaumburg a 23-22 lead, but the Saints retaliated with a kill from Ashley Bullock to give Barry the serve. Barry fired an ace to get to match point and Woods followed with her 16th kill to end it.

“We’re really good at making adjustments,” Woods said. “I think that’s a really good quality about us, so we play the ball and if it doesn’t work, we’ll figure out what happened and we’ll change it right away.”

Woods and Barry, who had 23 assists, two blocks and two aces, are the only stars left from the team that finished third in the state last season, but despite an 0-4 start and a relatively inexperience roster, the Saints don’t get nervous.

“It’s teamwork,” Barry said. “We’ve worked so hard in practice. We have each other’s back. I’m so comfortable on the court. Everyone has confidence. It’s so fun to be out there.”

Johnson finished with nine kills and Carly Jimenez had five kills and two assists fro the Saints, who also received a combined 11 service points from defensive specialists Katie Kull and Chloe Rojas.

Kelly Koutnik led Schaumburg with 13 kills and nine digs. Sarah Steuhm added 10 digs and Jada Blackwell 17 assists for the Saxons.

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