Underdog Oswego captures titleOswego's Stephanie Coates and Amy Holpuch celebrate a regional championship victory over Waubonsie Valley in Oswego on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 27, 2011 9:58PM
So much for 13 being unlucky.
“We came in as underdogs, definitely,” said Oswego coach Erica Lorenz, whose team was seeded 13th in the West Aurora Class 4A Sectional but completed its Cinderella run through its own regional Thursday with a 25-23, 13-25, 25-19 win over No. 5 seed Waubonsie Valley.
“The last time we won a regional was 2005. And we’ve never won the conference,” continued Lorenz. “I hope this will earn some respect for the girls.”
Oswego (19-17) had knocked of No. 4 Naperville Central in straight sets on Tuesday.
“It feels amazing. We’ve been on a roll since the second half of (Southwest Prairie) conference play,” said senior outside hitter Sydney Volovski, a Division I Manhattan College recruit who missed much of that first half with a fractured wrist.
Her six-point serving run early in the decisive set lifted the hosts from an 8-5 deficit into a 12-8 lead.
“We needed to side out but just couldn’t get it,” said Warriors coach Kristen Stuart, whose team closes 23-13.
Oswego boosted its lead to five (15-10) on an ace serve from sophomore libero Anna Matic (14 digs). The Panthers then took advantage of several Warrior hitting and service errors, got a block and a kill from Volovski and closed it out on well-placed kill to an opening in the back of the court by Amy Holpuch (11 assists).
“The first (set) we didn’t pass very well and were out of system pretty much the whole game,” Stuart said. “We passed much stronger in (set) 2 and got quite a few aces in that game, too.”
The aggressive serving then came back to bite them. The Warriors had four service errors in their next seven attempts after the Volovski run.
“The thing is, you can’t just lollipop (serves) over the net either or they’ll just hammer it back to you,” Stuart said.
Lorenz was able to count on a balanced attack that keyed the win. It included seven kills from Volovski (11 digs), six from lanky lefty Brittany Maertzig, five from Sehlby Ritsema, three from Destiny Stuersel and a pair from Katherine Daley (2 aces).
“They played great defense, too,” Stuart said. “Their libero was fantastic.”
Lorenz couldn’t help but agree.
“Anna (Matic) was just amazing picking up those hits from No. 14 (Lisa Studnicka, match-high 17 kills) and the crosscourt ones,” the coach said. “She had a ton of digs.
“We also brought up (sophomore defensive specialist) Emily Prystash to fill in for (injured team captain) Katy Kennedy, who’s been out about a week and a half. She has a very aggressive serve and has done a nice job since the last conference match.”
Waubonsie Valley sophomore setter/right side Rachel Minarick was outstanding, recording nine kills, 18 assists and 10 digs. Libero Lauren Clarke had 25 digs, Danielle Vandenberg added six kills, Katie Campbell had six blocks, Noelle Linden 12 asssists and Geena Mancuso nine digs.
Now, it’s on to Tuesday’s 6 p.m. semifinal at West Aurora for Oswego, where the Panthers will meet Benet Academy.
“I hear they’re good,” Stuersel said of Benet. “They’re ranked first in state, but everybody has a bad game (sometime). We’ll do our best, work hard in practice and give it our all.”