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Girls volleyball: Strong finish leads Celtics past Tigers

NEW LENOX – Wednesday’s girls volleyball match between Providence Catholic and Joliet West had an atmosphere not typical of a midweek nonconference meeting.

That’s because both teams played hard throughout the three sets, and it wasn’t until the host Celtics broke open a 16-all tie with closing 9-1 run in the third set to claim a 25-22, 17-25, 25-17 victory over the Tigers.

“There were little things that we needed to adjust, and we did that in the third set,” Celtics coach Jean Phelps said. “I have a lot of girls, and almost every single one of them can go out there and do their job. They were a good matchup for sure.”

The Tigers (13-4) tied it 16 in the third set on an ace from Brooke Borgra, but once the Celtics (11-6) got the service with Juliana Warfield (15 kills) behind the line, they started to take control with four straight points that were started on a kill by Izabela Gorys (13 kills). They ended the set with another kill by Gorys and two aces from Kailey Labuda.

“They played well, and when they’re in system, they’re tough,” said Tigers coach Al Mart, whose team hosts Minooka Thursday in a big Southwest Prairie Conference match. “They’re not very big, but their outsides get up, and they do a good job of running their offense.

“I would have liked to see us play a little better Game 3, especially when it was tied, but we missed four out of five serves, and you can’t do that against a quality opponent. I was happy with the way that we played hard. We just have to control our unforced errors, and it doesn’t get any easier tomorrow.”

After Providence grabbed an early 10-4 lead in the first set, West battled back to take a brief lead. It still was tied at 20 when Sydney Lumsden served for three points, including an ace, to give the Celtics a 24-20 lead, and the Tigers could only get two points closer after two kills from Ashley Shawmeker (six kills).

In the second set, which West won, the Tigers used a nine-point service run from Borgra to go up 14-7, and Providence got no closer than six points after that.

Other leaders for the Celtics included Gillian Peterson (seven kills), Vittoria Conte (16 digs) and setter Abby Lab.

“It was really just a team effort,” Conte said. “We didn’t start out that strong, but then we ended up clicking in the end and pulling through. So I’m proud of my team. We weren’t ready to lose that match. It was so exciting since there was a huge crowd, so I knew we had to win.”

The Tigers also got solid performances from Natalie Stefanski (13 kills, two blocks), Alexis Mines (eight kills) and setter Samantha Fair.

“We played really well,” Lab said. “We struggled in the second game, but we came back during the third really well and put it together. We just come together and cheer each other on and really like working together as a team in order to get the job done.”

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