Girls Volleyball: St Charles East pulls upset win over YorkThe St. Charles East girls volleyball team celebrates a hard fought win over York on Thursday night. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 3, 2011 10:01PM
St. Charles East volleyball coach Jennie Kull couldn’t help but think back to last year’s heartbreaking loss to York at the Bartlett Sectional when things got tough in Thursday’s St. Charles East Class 4A Sectional title match against those same Dukes.
The Saints had won the first game Thursday and built a 9-1 lead in the second game, only to see the Dukes come back to force a decisive third set.
“Did I feel like I was sitting in the gym last year (a 25-23, 25-23 loss to York)?,” Kull said. “Yes I did. I said to the coaches, ‘Really? Isn’t this what happened last year?’”
This time around, however, the second-seeded Saints answered the bell. They won an emotional third set to win the sectional title 25-21, 23-25, 25-22. The Saints advance to the York Supersectional on Saturday against Glenbrook South, a 25-19, 25-12 winner over Loyola.
“It just comes down to heart,” Kull said. “There’s no other way I can describe that. They wanted it. They wanted to win on this court. We know what York did to us last year.”
East (33-6 overall) trailed early in the first game against top-seeded York (32-4), but once the Saints took a 10-9 lead, they never trailed again. East rolled that momentum into the second game, where the Saints looked like they were going to make quick work of York.
Senior Nichole Lambert had two kills and a block and Kadie Brooks and Nicole Woods each served up aces as East jumped out to a 9-1 lead. But the Dukes were not finished.
York kept clawing away before finally taking the lead on a Katie Gallagher kill, 23-22. They hung on to win the game, forcing a decisive third game with all of the momentum on their side.
“During that timeout (between games), I looked at our team and said, ‘Listen, we lost to (St. Charles North Tuesday) in the first game and came back to win.’ I have confidence in my team right now,” said Kull. “We knew we would come back and win the third game. I’m so proud of the way we came out.”
Meghan Niski, who led the Saints with 18 kills, was a huge part of the comeback. Six Niski kills helped the Saints take a 13-11 lead. York hung around, but was never able to take the lead. After the Dukes cut it to 22-21, an error and a Niski kill pushed the lead to 24-21 for the Saints and they hung on for the win.
“Meghan Niski took control of the game, and all of the other kids followed,” Kull said. “She said to me today that she started down at Illinois State (as a freshman, playing on the Saints’ state championship team in 2008), and she wants to finish there.”