Girls Volleyball: Haggerty sisters help St Francis edge Centennial in 3A semifinalSt. Francis players celebrate their victory over Champaign Centennial during their volleyball state championship semi-final game at Redbird Arena in Normal, IL Friday, November 9, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 9, 2012 8:11PM
Normal, Ill. — Maddie Haggerty knows a little bit about winning state titles. Little sister Molly? Not so much.
But she’s learning fast.
Maddie Haggerty had 13 kills, Molly Haggerty added 11 kills and McKenna Kelsay had 37 assists to give St. Francis a 21-25, 25-20, 26-24 win over Centennial in a Class 3A state semifinal at Redbird Arena on Friday.
St. Francis will play in the 3A championship game Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Maddie Haggerty, who won a state title at Benet last year, was in the back row when the Spartans (36-5) erased a 23-22 deficit in Game 3 and took a 25-24 lead. But it was Maddie’s pass to setter McKenna Kelsay that set up Molly’s decisive kill.
“It was like the Joliet Catholic match (in the sectional final at Glenbard South),” Molly Haggerty said. “I just kept hitting it as hard as I can. I don’t really think about it.”
Kelsay never doubted that Molly Haggerty would deliver.
“At the beginning of the year, we didn’t connect really well,” said Kelsay, who added four kills and nine digs. “Her first time on varsity, it was kind of rough. Now, I know every ball is either going to go down or it’s going to be a good ball.
“I have so much confidence in her,” she added. “She’s really composed, even for a freshman. It’s not going to get into her head if she makes a mistake.”
Centennial (36-5), which defeated St. Francis earlier this season in the semifinals of the Effingham Crossroads Classic, rallied from a 15-10 deficit to win Game 1 behind the serving of Lindsay Rogan and Kara Johnson.
But an ace by Mary Boken (three kills, three aces) gave St. Francis the lead for good at 7-6 in Game 2, setting up a dramatic Game 3, which saw five lead changes after the teams were tied at 19-19.
Centennial got 11 kills from Rachel Jones, 10 kills from Johnson and eight from Lauren Cloyd. Rogan had 20 digs for the Chargers, while Sam Dubiel contributed 13 digs for St. Francis.
“I knew it would come down to who got the last swing,” Centennial coach San Bergmann said. “It wasn’t going to be a mistake at the end. Unfortunately, they were the ones that got the last swing in.”
The win was No. 1,130 for St. Francis coach Peg Kopec, who will go for her ninth state title Saturday.
“No one had any doubts, did you?” said Kopec, who paced the sidelines throughout the 69-minute match. “Centennial played so well. We had to play the best we could to beat them.”
Meanwhile, Maddie and Molly Haggerty hope to share the euphoria of a state championship much like Maddie and Meghan Haggerty shared one year ago.
“Last year, Meghan was like my older sister, but Molly is like my twin,” Maddie said. “You can’t tell she’s…13? 14?”
“Fourteen,” Molly Haggerty chimed in.
“It’s just been fun experiencing this together,” Maddie Haggerty said.