Loyola’s Mohr, Pontarelli Too Powerful for Niles West
The sheer power of senior Kaitlin Mohr and junior Anna Pontarelli proved enough for Loyola to thwart two comebacks by host Niles West and prevail 25-22, 25-22 to capture the 4A regional crown on Thursday.
Fourth-seeded Loyola (23-14) will face No. 1 New Trier or No. 8 Niles North in a sectional semifinal at Glenbrook South on Tuesday.
The 5-foot-11 Mohr, who will play for Loyola University of New Orleans next year, finished with seven kills, a solo, an assist block and an ace. The 5-9 Pontarelli delivered eight kills, 19 digs and an assist block.
“We knew we had to stop (Mohr). We tried our best, but I felt that she was the difference,” said Niles West head coach Stacy Metoyer.
Sixth-seeded Niles West (22-11) clawed back from an 18-13 deficit to lead 19-18 in the first game before falling short. The next set was a virtual carbon copy as the Wolves wiped out a 14-8 shortfall to go up 17-16 and 20-19 before the Ramblers regained control.
Wolves senior Milena Zalloni racked up 11 kills, three aces and seven digs. Sophomore star outside hitter Olivia Rusek was held to five kills. Junior libero Molly Kleppin came up with 13 digs.
“When I looked in the eyes of Kaitlin, Anna, Esme (Condon) and our other girls, I knew they would get the job done,” said Loyola head coach Jenny Morris. “We knew Niles West was an excellent passing team and relentless on defense. We knew (Rusek) was their go-to person. We did a good job of controlling her.”
Morris also lauded the serving of Sarah Udelhofen and stout defense by specialists Grace Kane, Hayley Johnson and Lindsay McKerr.