DARIEN – De La Salle Institute’s girls volleyball team was hoping it would make some history at Friday’s IHSA Class 3A Hinsdale South Supersectional against Joliet Catholic Academy by becoming the school’s first team to win a state trophy in the sport.
Instead, JCA’s Christine Scheibe and her team made history as she became the second coach in the sport to win 10 state trophies in the first 20 years of her career, joining Mother McAuley’s Nancy Pedersen, who won 10 trophies during her initial 14 seasons. Scheibe also becomes the fifth coach to lead 10 or more teams to the final four.
As the result of the Angels’ 25-15, 25-20 victory over the Meteors, they’ve earned a second straight trophy and their 10th in the past 17 years. JCA (25-14) plays in the Friday’s 5:30 p.m. semifinal against Normal University High at Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena in Normal. Defending champion Sterling meets Nazareth Academy in the other semifinal.
“This team has the experience and we played a schedule that prepares us for the end of the season,” Scheibe said. “And I thought that was the difference in the match tonight. You could tell our strength of schedule compared to De La Salle’s. Our girls have been downstate before and know what it takes to get there. I thought we had a good practice last night to prepare for this and we went out and pretty much executed the game plan we had in mind.”
This is the first time since 2014 and 2015 that JCA won back-to-back supersectional matches. In the latter of those seasons, it also beat De La Salle to reach the final four.
The Angels jumped out to a 14-8 lead in the initial set and a 16-8 cushion in the finale, and the Meteors were unable to get any closer than two points behind following those deficits.
Leading JCA were Jillian Gray (nine kills), Bella Ray (six kills, three block kills), Riley Hungate (five kills, eight digs), Ryan Hinshaw (16 assists) and Erin O’Grady (seven digs).
“We knew that we could do this throughout the whole year, even though it’s obviously been a very tough year with the injuries,” Gray said. “I liked the perseverance of everyone to practice really hard. We’re definitely not going to take this opportunity for granted and we’re going to work our hardest and hopefully come home with a state championship.”
After De La Salle closed to within 15-13 in the first set on a kill by Ariana Joubert, JCA got a point on a wide hit and O’Grady stepped to the line and served up five-straight points that included a pair of aces.
“There was just a lot of teamwork because we all worked so hard since all of us wanted to be here so badly and put our hearts into the game,” O’Grady said. “We really had to work a lot harder for everything that we were playing for.”
The Angels used an eight-point serving run by Hungate to go up 10-4 in the final set and the Meteors were unable to any get closer than four points back after that as Gray, Ray and Hungate collected most of their kills.
“Honestly, I really think that after everything we’ve gone through together as a team really has helped us grow and get to where we’re at,” Hungate said.
“I don’t think without going through all of those things that it would have been the same at all.”