Girls Volleyball: Maddie, Molly Haggerty shine in St Francis 3A title winSt. Francis players celebrate with the first place trophyafter defeating Richmond-Burton during their class 3A volleyball state championship title game at Redbird Arena in Normal, IL Saturday, November 10, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 10, 2012 8:02PM
NORMAL – As long as there’s a Haggerty in the house, St. Francis coach Peg Kopec stands a pretty good chance of passing Mother McAuley’s Nancy Pedersen for the most state titles by a coach.
Freshman Molly Haggerty had 12 kills, junior Maddie Haggerty added seven kills and McKenna Kelsay orchestrated the Spartans’ offense with 27 assists as St. Francis defeated Richmond-Burton 25-21, 25-20 to win the IHSA Class 3A state championship Saturday at Redbird Arena on the campus of Illinois State University.
The state title was the ninth for Kopec, tying her with Pedersen, who won nine between 1984 and 2004. It was the second state title for Maddie Haggerty in as many years, and the first for St. Francis since 2006.
The Spartans even broke out the uniforms their predecessors wore in 2006, although Kopec admitted the two-tone, dark blue, half-sleeved jerseys probably set fashion back a few years.
“This is a very, very special win because this is a special team,” she said. “They faced a lot of adversity this year, with injuries and other things. I can’t put into words how great it is for them to accomplish their goal.
“When I started coaching, dinosaurs roamed the earth,” said Kopec, who just completed her 38th season. “But it’s always been about trying to create memories for the girls and create a sense of family. A lot of things we do are designed to foster that.”
Molly and Maddie Haggerty now have a memory to share that Maddie and older sister Meghan Haggerty enjoyed last year.
“Last year I watched from the crowd when Meghan and Maddie won a state title, and I remembered wanting to be a part of it,” she said.
Molly Haggerty made it happen by putting away a kill at 24-21 in Game 1 after St. Francis broke away from a 15-15 tie with a 9-5 run fueled by three kills from Maddie Haggerty. Michelle McLaughlin (five kills) and Mary Boken (three kills) also had kills during the run.
Six-foot-1 junior and Penn State recruit Ali Frantti tried to keep Richmond-Burton close, hitting from everywhere on the floor except the umpire’s chair to finish with 16 kills on 36 attempts.
But after four kills by Frantti ignited a 10-4 run that pulled the Rockets within 24-20, a tip by the Spartans’ Becca Shearer finally put a bittersweet finish to Richmond-Burton’s first trip to the state finals.
“It was unbelievable (playing her), “ Frantti said. “I was trying to soak it up, trying to enjoy it.”
Kim Russell added seven kills, Kara Russell had 22 assists and Marissa Woodward had 15 digs for Richmond-Burton, which finished 37-5.
“We went in with a definite game plan and I thought we executed it pretty well,” said Richmond-Burton coach Kaycee Kaywood. “I was so happy to see the girls come back the way they did in Game 2. If we were going to go down, I wanted us to go down that way.”