Girls Volleyball: Mother McAuley downs Libertyville, takes third in Class 4AMother McAuley's Gabrielle Ennis (right) and teammates celebrate their victory over Libertyville during their class 4A volleyball state championship third place game at Redbird Arena in Normal, IL Saturday, November 10, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
It’s a process recovering when opportunity knocks and you don’t answer the door.
Mother McAuley did a pretty good job of processing after losing to New Trier in Friday night’s Class 4A semifinal.
“Their hearts were broken last night. We felt sorry for ourselves last night, slept on it, had a good practice this morning and we were ready to go,” coach Jen DeJarld said after McAuley bounced back Saturday to claim third place with a 25-22, 25-22 victory over Libertyville.
Ryann DeJarld led the way for the Mighty Macs (36-5) with eight kills and digs. Kelly Clarke added six kills, Gabrielle Ennis five kills, Michelle Konecki 13 digs, Carla Cahill 12 digs and Courtney Joyce 22 assists and 12 digs.
Libertyville (34-8) was paced by Julia Smagacz (7 kills), Taylor Zant (5 kills), Cindy Zhou (16 assists) and Kristen Webb (20 assists).
For Mother McAuley, it was the 21st state trophy (a state record), achieved with a team that expects to return 11 players in 2013.
“I’m happy about what we have coming back,” Jen Dejarld said. “We’re losing four pretty special girls (Erica Harris, Patsy Boland, Konecki and Clarke). It’s always hard to lose seniors, especially as good as these girls.
“But yeah, we’ve got a pretty good crop coming back, and a pretty good crop on the J.V. level. And I’m really happy about this (finishing third). It sets a tone for us that we can hopefully continue and be blessed to be back here again.”
Libertyville took home its second-ever state trophy, matching a fourth-place finish in 2007.
“We’re disappointed at the result, but the girls executed what we wanted them to do,” Wildcats coach Greg Loika said. “They just had a couple more swings left than we did.
“It was a great match, and we’re just proud to get here. I think there were some people who maybe thought, gosh, we eked it out and had some things fall our way to get down here. But I think we proved that we belonged here with these teams.”
The No. 1 issue for the Mighty Macs on Friday, hitting into New Trier’s taller blockers, resurfaced early against Libertyville, as combinations of Jordan Bauer, Smagacz and Zhou produced three consecutive blocks and a 5-4 lead.
Ryann DeJarld, however, started a trend for the Mighty Macs by hitting cross-court and away from the double blocks, landing three in a six-point run that gave the McAuley a 10-5 lead.
“I just told Courtney (Joyce) to set me kind of inside because their block wasn’t moving with us,” DeJarld said. “I mean, they have high hands and it was definitely hard to hit the line. You’ve just got to focus where you want to put the ball, and if you do it’ll happen for you.”
A slew of unforced errors by McAuley and solid defense by Libertyville allowed the Wildcats to close back and eventually build a 22-20 lead. But the Mighty Macs caught back-to-back-to-back breaks on Libertyville miscues, before Ennis landed a perfectly placed tip for kill, and DeJarld put another spike down to win Set 1.
The second set was much like the first, with lead swapping throughout. But again, at 22-22, it was Ennis providing a spark with a kill, after which DeJarld went back-to-back with successful spikes to close it out.