Girls Volleyball: St Francis falls in state semisSt. Francis' Lexi Riccolo makes a dig against Breese Mater Dei during their class 3A state semifinal volleyball game at Redbird Arena in Normal, IL Friday, November 11, 2011. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 11, 2011 9:55PM
NORMAL – Breese Mater Dei rookie coach Chad Rakers only had one word to say after watching his team defeat St. Francis in an IHSA Class 3A girls state volleyball semifinal Friday at Redbird Arena.
“Wow,” he said.
Breese Mater Dei (38-3) rallied from a 10-6 deficit in Game 1 and never slowed down, defeating the Spartans 25-19, 25-11 to advance to Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. championship game.
Brooke Schulte had six kills and Abby Winter added five kills for the defending state champions, who took a 13-12 lead on a service ace by Winter and never trailed again.
“It is certainly a disappointment for us,” St. Francis coach Peg Kopec said. “I guess I’m disappointed because a lot of people didn’t believe in this team from the beginning and we’ve come a long way. We’ve become a little bit of force to be reckoned with.
“We did not play well today, and people did not see St. Francis volleyball,” she added. “But that happens.”
A kill by Carly Warner gave St. Francis (34-7) a 7-4 lead in Game 1 and Daiva Wise’s kill extended the advantage to 10-6. But Mater Dei chipped away at the Spartans’ advantage, finally pulling even on a kill by Bailey Kampwerth.
The match was still even at 14-14 following a service error by Schulte, but back-to-back kills by Kayla Eversgerd and Sam Bedard and a hitting error by St. Francis forced Kopec to take a timeout.
“They are a real scrappy team,” Warner said. “They wouldn’t let a ball drop. We picked a bad day to play bad.”
Kopec refused to use St. Francis’ lack of experience as an excuse. Mater Dei returned most of last year’s state championship team, while none of the Spartans had ever played at Redbird Arena prior to practice on Thursday.
“Experience is great, but I’m not going to give our girls that excuse,” she said. ”We had a chance to practice here, and the girls have plenty of experience as far as playing on the road away from home.”
Wise led St. Francis with five kills and Grace Churney and Warner each had four kills. Warner also chipped in 10 assists and five digs.
“Breese is an excellent team,” Warner said. “I wish we could have given them a better match.”
Bedard had 18 assists for Mater Dei, which is seeking its seventh state title overall.
“From point one, we just decided to bring it all night tonight,” Rakers said. “I don’t know what more I can say. You will never hear me say we can’t play better. You can always do something better. But can we give more effort than that? I don’t know.”