Girls volleyball: Joliet Catholic’s run undoneJoliet Catholic Academy's #8 Emily Schoenstedt sets the ball to #3 Morgan Readon vs Wheaton St. Francis at the IHSA Class 3A Joliet Catholic Sectional Finals and St. Francis won in 2 games held at home on Thursday, November 03, 2011. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 7, 2011 8:59PM
For three straight seasons, Joliet Catholic had ended the year playing for the Class 3A state championship.
This season the Angels will not be making the trip to Redbird Arena. They dropped a 25-23, 25-19 match Thursday at home to St. Francis to see their streak of six straight sectional titles end.
“Yes, it was different,” Joliet Catholic coach Christine Scheibe said of the feeling of not moving on after advancing to the Class 3A state title game the past three seasons, winning in 2008 and ’09. “It’s something we haven’t experienced in a few years.
“But give St. Francis credit. They seemed to be on a mission to get through.”
The turning point came in Game 1. That’s where Joliet Catholic had an 18-13 advantage and couldn’t close. Leading 21-19, the Angels committed three straight errors to fall behind.
“We said afterward if we played our best, we could have been downstate,” Joliet Catholic libero Jill Hickey said. “St. Francis came to play and we didn’t.”
Even a casual observer of the sport would have to be puzzled why the two state powers were meeting up for the third straight season in the sectional. They met in the Class AA state semifinals in 2006, when St. Francis won en route to the title and the Angels took third.
When the state went to four classes the next year, the two met in the supersectional in 2007 and 2008, splitting those meetings. But in 2009, they were moved in the same sectional. Joliet Catholic won close meetings in 2009 and ’10.
Whenever the teams meet in the sectional, one of the best programs in the state is denied a sectional title. Plus, volleyball is the only sport the two schools are paired with each other in a sectional. Scheibe didn’t use that as an excuse.
“Last season we lost to them big in Game 1 and bounced back,” she said of the 11-25, 25-20, 25-18 win over St. Francis in the 2010 sectional title match. “It’s always a tough rivalry.
“During the season I was telling the girls they didn’t know anything except ending their season at state. I thought maybe they were taking it for granted. It doesn’t just happen. You have to earn the right to get there.”
Big season for Minooka
Minooka took the long trip to Edwardsville and lost 25-19, 25-15 in the sectional final. The Indians finished 29-5, were undefeated Southwest Prairie Conference champions and advanced to the sectional final for the second straight season.
“Traveling to Edwardsville wasn’t our top choice but it wasn’t bad, either,” Minooka coach Chris Hoelscher said. “Quite a few of our parents and a small group of students made the trip with us. Playing in a packed gym when we played at Joliet Catholic a few months ago was much louder.
“That said, I don’t think home-court advantage or the travel did us in. We lost to a very good team. We played hard, but we just couldn’t run off strings of points to build momentum. (The record) 29-5 is nothing to be ashamed of, and we accomplished too much to have our season be defined by one match.”
Lockport coach Julia Hudson closed out her 32-year run as Porters coach. Her career record finishes at 857-371-3, a winning percentage of .696. The Porters were 26-12 this year, their most wins since 1999.