Girls Volleyball: Abby Gilleand leads Marian Central past Marian CatholicMarian Catholic's Amber Clay (left) goes up against Marian Central's Abby Gilleland 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 8:43PM
Abby Gilleland already has one third-place medal. She was not going to settle for another.
Gilleland, a two-time Sun-Times all-area selection, had 10 kills, 25 assists and a key service stretch in Game 3 that helped Marian Central (35-6) overcome an early 7-4 deficit as the Hurricanes advanced to the Class 3A state championship match with a 20-25, 25-18, 25-23 victory over Marian Catholic Friday at Redbird Arena.
Gilleland took her teammates aside after they lost the first game to the surprising Spartans.
“(After losing the first game) I was pulled the girls aside and said, ‘You know what guys, I’m a senior and I don’t want to be pushed down to where I was last year,’” Gilleland said. “I want to do better. Once we won that second game, I just wanted to keep it the same, have the same amount of fun.
“I felt like last year there were a lot of balls, if I look back in my mind, I knew there was a lot more I could have done,” she added. “So this this time around I was not going to walk away feeling that way, and I don’t feel that way.”
Tara Blake and Emma Hussey also had 10 kills for Marian Central, which will face Breese Mater Dei in the title match Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
“Marian Catholic gave us everything they could,” Marian Central coach Lara Watling said. “They were really, really aggressive. I wasn’t surprised that our girls fought back. That’s one thing they do. They don’t get nervous. They get excited.
“I knew in my heart that our girls wouldn’t go away easily,” she said.
Marian Catholic (24-17) jumped on Marian Central early, building an 18-9 lead in Game 1 on a kill by sophomore Tara Clay. The Hurricanes closed to within 21-18 on a Spartans’ service error, but could get no closer.
Game 2 was all Marian Central, however. The Hurricanes took the lead for good at 8-7 and eventually built a 20-14 bulge. A kill by Gilleland forced the third game. This time, however, Marian Catholic fought back from a 19-14 deficit and got even at 19-19 on a Jasmine King kill.
But a Marian Catholic service error and back-to-back winners by Frankie Taylor and Gilleland gave the Hurricanes a 23-20 lead and Tara Blake’s kill ended the longest match of the day.
Clay led Marian Catholic with 18 kills, Kelsey Clark added 10 and Colleen Rynne had 36 assists.
“Their game plan is pretty easy to figure out, but not so easy to stop,” Marian Catholic coach Ryan Summers said. “It just came down neck-and-neck to two points at the end, and it just takes one or two of those to make a difference.”