Girls Volleyball: Cary-Grove too much for MaristBenet players celebrate scoring a point against St. Charles East during their Class 4A state semifinal match Friday at Redbird Arena in Normal. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 11, 2011 10:59PM
NORMAL — Cary-Grove was down, but never out. And when it counted, the Trojans were unflappable.
Meanwhile, Marist’s first-ever appearance at the state volleyball finals had all of the drama of its incredible postseason run.
Only the result was different.
Cary-Grove dashed the RedHawks’ state title dreams in a grueling two-game semifinal, 35-33, 25-19.
Cary-Grove, which won the Class 4A title in 2009 and was second in ’10, will play Benet in Saturday’s title match. Marist will meet St. Charles East in the third-place tilt.
“I think it’s harder to play the third-place match than to play for the state championship,” Marist coach Natalie Holder said. “But we’re going to do what we did all year and battle.”
Melanie Jereb had 11 kills and 16 digs, Ashley Rosch 10 kills and 13 digs and Jess Bartczynszyn 24 assists for the victorious Trojans (36-4).
Mallory Salis (15 kills), Kelly Marcinek (12 kills), Ashley Holder (28 assists, nine digs) and Carolyn Yerkes (16 digs) were the top producers for Marist (30-6).
The RedHawks had their chances. They led Game 1 by as much as 14-9 and Game 2 by a 13-9 margin. In both cases, however, Cary-Grove clawed back and was too much down the stretch, especially in the second game.
In the first, it was 20-18 Marist when Jereb put down a kill and Nicole Schuh an ace to tie it up.
From there, the two teams traded points, along with opportunities to win.
Each had five game points. Only Cary-Grove was able to convert, as Jereb tipped for kill to make it 34-33 before Rosch ended it with an ace.
“Winning that first game says something about the girls,” Cary-Grove coach Patty Langanis said. “Other teams might be afraid to miss a serve or afraid to take that full swing.
“These (girls) have been through it all and survived everything. They know at the end of the game they’re going to survive. In a match like that, that experience came out and they’re not going to give up.”
When it was over, Game 1 had featured 18 ties and 13 lead changes.
“It was a really tough game to lose, but we thought we could come back,” Ashley Holder said.
In Game 2, Marist again took an early lead, but for the most part it was a back-and-forth battle. Rosch broke the final tie (16-16) with a kill, starting a 3-0 run.
The RedHawks never would get closer than two.
“Congratulations to Cary-Grove,” Holder said. “They made very few errors and we made some unforced ones. Still, I’m proud of the girls. We fought hard.”