Girls Volleyball: Defending champ Benet returns to state finals

Updated: November 3, 2012 5:24PM

The Benet Redwings took another step toward prep girls volleyball history on Saturday afternoon.

Benet erased sizeable deficits in each set to put away the Edwardsville Tigers 25-20, 25-20 in the Class 4A Normal West Supersectional. The Redwings, seeking to become the first to win back-to-back 4A state championships since class expansion in 2007, improve to 38-2 while extending their winning streak to 22 successive matches.

“It’s a great, great accomplishment anytime you can get back there,” Benet coach Brad Baker said of a Final Four berth. “But we’re not trying to repeat. This team’s trying to win their own championship. This is a new year, a new season and they want to make their own history.”

Benet, ranked No. 16 in the nation by, will play the Prairie Ridge-Libertyville winner in a semifinal at about 9 p.m. Friday at Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena. Edwardsville, in the supersectional for the fourth time in five years, closes its season at 32-8.

“We knew coming in today that this was going to be the best team that we’ve seen so far in the state playoffs,” Baker said of the Tigers, who placed third at state in 2010. “That’s an excellent team and an excellent program.”

Edwardsville took command early in both sets, leading 15-10 in Game 1 and 12-7 in Game 2. But the Redwings flashed their champions pedigree, reeling off runs of 8-1 and 7-2 to finish off the Tigers in the first set and came back with runs of 7-1 and 8-1 to win the second.

“We gave up runs that you just can’t do in big matches,” Edwardsville coach Jami Parker said. “You can’t give up runs and we did that in both games and let them back in. Benet’s a great team and it’s one of those things that you have to earn every single point and make every point count. … Their defense was phenomenal. They were making us work for every shot.”

Senior outside Cara Mattaliano led the Redwings with 10 kills, while senior libero Sheila Doyle had 17 digs and junior Caroline Wolf finished with 14 service points.

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