Benet blows by West AuroraBenet Academy celebrates a victory over West Aurora in the Benet regional final at Benet Academy in Lisle, Ill., on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011. | Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 27, 2011 8:35PM
This was a different West Aurora team. Only the outcome was the same.
Meghan Haggerty had nine kills and two aces, Maddie Haggerty added seven kills and three blocks, Gabby Pethokoukis had six kills and Hannah Kaminsky added 23 assists as No. 3 Benet survived its regional championship match against West Aurora, 25-22, 25-18, Thursday in Lisle.
Although it still goes down as a season-ending “L” for West Aurora, it was a far cry from the 25-8, 25-22 pasting the Redwings dealt the Blackhawks just two short weeks ago.
“At the beginning of the season, we were a mosh pit of people,” West Aurora junior Lauren Carlini said. “We just knew if we tried as hard as we could, if we gave everything we’ve got and gave our maximum effort on every point, we could give them a run for their money.”
Benet (34-3) never trailed in Game 1 and built a 9-4 lead on an Annie Ferlmann ace. But West Aurora (24-13) rallied to tie the set at 13-13 on one of eight kills by Carlini.
The game was still tied at 16-16 on a Benet error, but back-to-back kills from sophomore Maddie Haggerty allowed the Redwings to open a 21-18 lead.
Peyton McKenzie got West Aurora within 24-22 with one of her six kills, but Jenna Jendryk’s only kill of Game 1 allowed the hosts to exhale.
Maddie and Meghan Haggerty combined for 12 kills in Game 1 as Benet used its height to great advantage against the shorter Blackhawks.
“They surprised us from the last time we played them,” Meghan Haggerty said. “They’re a totally different team. They came out with a lot of heart and they gave us probably their best game. But I think every time we give the ball to the middle, it’s very difficult for the other team to stop us.”
Wes Aurora had the same problem in Game 2 when Benet’s 6-3 Pethokoukis collected five of her six kills. But the Blackhawks still managed to take their second lead of the game (they led at 1-0) on an Abigail Schaschwary kill that broke a 13-13 tie.
However, a 4-1 run by the hosts, which included a Nora Young putaway and a Meghan Haggerty ace, that broke a 16-16 tie proved too much for West Aurora to overcome.
“We knew who their weapons were, we knew who we had to block,” Carlini said. “Yesterday we practiced what spots to hit on the court and used that to our advantage. We knew we had to step up our game from the last time, and we did that.”
Carlini led West Aurora with 10 assists, eight kills and a block. Ellie Martin added nine assists and Kelsey Richmond had four kills.
“It was a good match,” Benet coach Brad Baker said. “They made us earn points, and we did. We passed well and we hit well. They didn’t make many errors. It was a good, clean match on both sides. We were just able to sideout at a higher percentage than they were.
“It was just good volleyball tonight,” he added.