Girls volleyball: Neuqua Valley advances, Waubonsie Valley ousted in regional semifinals

 
 
Updated 10/25/2022 9:40 PM

Megan Maier and Oswego East carried a visual reminder into Tuesday's regional opener of what they are capable of.

Their conference championship banner.

 

The piece of cloth, not yet hung in the school gymnasium, has been sitting in Wolves' coach Dina Beamon's car since they clinched the program's first league title last week.

"My coach was like 'We're taking this with us tonight,'" said Maier, one of nine Oswego East seniors. "I think it's just a reminder that we can do great things."

The Wolves are a win away from doing more great things.

Fueled by a long Maier service run in the first set, fourth-seeded Oswego East beat 14th-seeded Waubonsie Valley 25-22, 25-15 in the first semifinal of the Class 4A Neuqua Valley Regional.

The Wolves (26-6) will play sixth-seeded Neuqua Valley, a 27-25, 25-14 winner over 11th-seeded Yorkville, in Thursday's regional final for Oswego East's first regional title.

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With the power of positive thinking -- and that banner -- the Wolves bounced back from a loss to Minooka in the regular season finale.

"The girls were disappointed about that last loss, but I told them 'You have accomplished a lot, you need a reminder of that,'" Beamon said. "I said that banner is coming with us so you can see what you've done."

Maier, who this year broke a single-season school ace record, got the Wolves started there Tuesday.

She had four kills and three aces in the first set -- all three of the aces coming during an 8-0 run that gave the Wolves a commanding 9-2 lead in the first set.

"That girl has no idea how incredible she is and how much she has to lead us on the court," Beamon said. "I told her 'Meg, when you're on, you're unstoppable.' What she did gave us momentum. That got everybody hyped up."

Cailyn Smiley had nine kills and 10 digs, Maier seven kills, eight digs and four aces and Vivian Campbell four kills and 14 digs for the match.

"I don't even know how I feel. I'm so ecstatic and so proud of them, antsy to get in the gym, we had practice at 6 a.m. Saturday," Beamon said. "We're ready to make history. This is our year."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Waubonsie Valley sophomore right-side hitter Naomi Dowd, who did not play in the teams' first meeting -- a three-set Oswego East win in the season opener -- had eight kills to lead the Warriors. Waubonsie (11-24) has had a couple tough years, but a core is in place for a bright future with Dowd, sophomore libero Asia Mitchell and sophomore outside Kaitlyn Reinhard.

"Naomi is definitely an asset for us and has grown for us. We had her playing all-around most of the year for a young team," Waubonsie coach Kari Galen said. "The future is promising."

In Tuesday's second match, Neuqua saw a 22-19 lead in the first set slip away, Yorkville surging back ahead to set point up 24-23 on Charlee Young's kill. The two teams traded set points until Neuqua's Bryanna Jones hammered home a kill for set point 27-25.

"That last timeout snapped us back together," Jones said. "We said we have to finish this ourselves, they're not going to give it to us. We had to fight for every point."

Jones carried the momentum of the end of the first set right into the second. Her huge kill capped off a 6-1 Neuqua start, and she ended with eight kills for the set, including match point.

"We played together and realized how important this was," Jones said. "The sets were more consistent. The first set we didn't have as many good passes. We cleaned those up."

Yorkville coach Lisa Molek appreciated the fight her girls showed in taking the first set to the wire. Young had three of her four kills during the rally from down 22-19 to up 24-23.

"It was hard for us to not run out of gas because we gave so much in the first set," Molek said. "I'm really proud of how we played. They could have easily crumbled under the pressure of being in [Neuqua's] school with some underclassmen. But I felt the first set was a good representation of what this team wanted to be."

Keelyn Muell had five kills, 10 assists and two blocks, Carly Suddeth three blocks and Marie Reichman 19 digs for Yorkville, which was a year removed from winning a conference and regional title.

"It's hard to graduate eight seniors and be as competitive as we are," Molek said. "I think tonight set a good precedent for the young kids of what we could do and their potential."

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