Girls Volleyball: Marian Catholic has no problem with PaytonPayton's Clare Loe (10) and Theodora Peric (11) block a spike from Marian Catholic's Amber Clay (11) at Saturday nights game between Payton and Marian Catholic. | Paul James Bergstrom~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 6, 2011 12:07AM
Marian Catholic, welcome back to the big show.
The Spartans — volleyballwise — earned their first ticket to the state finals in Normal since 2002, dominating Payton 25-18, 25-13 in the Class 3A Rich East Supersectional.
It was a thorough effort by a team that has just one senior, but a ton of confident underclassmen.
“What a night,” junior Jasmine King said amid a bevy of celebrating Spartans. “We wanted to come out and show everybody that we could do it. So we came out and pushed, and we did it as a team.”
A freshman, Kelsey Clark, led the way with seven kills and three blocks. Amber Clay added five kills, King three kills, Nicole Manno nine digs and Colleen Rynne 15 assists and two blocks as the Spartans improved to 24-16.
Payton (28-12) was paced by Theodora Peric (4 kills) and Michelle Schultz (3 kills).
Marian Catholic will play Woodstock Marian in one of two Class 3A semifinals Friday at Redbird Arena.
Marian, which trailed just once all night at 1-0 in Game 1, ran a very effective offense, especially so in the middle, where Rynne was able to quick-set Clark on several occasions.
“We have our own little mojo together,” Clark said. “We definitely connect well. Tonight, the openings were there, so many opportunities. And I took them.”
The Grizzlies, who defeated Oak Forest at the supersectional level in 2010, were as close as 18-16 in Game 1 before King put down a kill for Marian, igniting a 5-1 run that took away the drama.
Game 2 was still tight at 7-6 Spartans when Clark put one down on an assist from Rynne, and later Kendyl Todd went back-to-back for kills.
Clay, normally the Spartans’ top hitter, was bottled up most of the night by Payton’s defense. But she broke loose at the end of Game 2, slamming down three kills, one of which bounced off of a Payton defender and sailed to the ceiling before falling out of bounds.
“We weren’t really sure what to expect because we never played them in the regular season,” Rynne said. “So we just came out with the mindset that we were going to beat anyone in our way.
“This feels amazing. This is my dream come true.”