Girls volleyball: Palatine's 3rd-set rally knocks out Mundelein

 
 
Updated 10/26/2022 12:03 AM

Palatine's girls volleyball team saved its best rally of the season for Tuesday's first match of the postseason.

In fact, Pirates veteran coach Dan Gavin couldn't think of any of his teams which produced a better third-set comeback in his 17 seasons.

 

Trailing 14-6, the No. 8-seeded Pirates stormed back to grab a 21-25, 25-19, 25-21 triumph over No. 9 Mundelein (15-16) in the semifinals of the Class 4A Barrington regional.

"I just knew we had a different mindset than we've had from all our matches," said senior Maya Szafraniec, who helped spark the dramatic late run with her setting and attacking. "We were all super positive on the court. We just didn't give up and we knew we could come back."

Palatine (15-19) advanced to Thursday's 6 p.m. title match against host and top-seeded Barrington (35-1), which got past No. 16 Waukegan 25-11, 25-7 in Tuesday's first semifinal.

The Mustangs (15-16) took a 14-6 lead in the final set with a block from sophomore Allison Kampa, followed by four straight seriove points from classmate Norah Emso, the first two being aces.

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But after Gavin's timeout, the Pirates got on track.

They closed to within 16-15, thanks in part to kills from Szafraniec and classmate Erin McGinn. They took the lead for good on Szafraniec's kill which made it 18-17. A kill by junior Amber Piebanski extended the lead to 21-18.

Szafraniec then set Piebanski for another kill that made it 23-19.

The Mustangs got to within 23-21 before Mia Hanson's kill and a service point from junior Halla Krech ended the match.

"I was just listening to my coach telling me the zones and focusing on the game," said Krech, who served the Pirates to a 4-0 lead in Set 1. "I tried not to overthink. It's all about focusing."

"Halla's serving really was a game-changer for us," Gavin said. "She executed that perfectly."

And it was a perfect ending for the Pirates.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Everybody on the court at the end of that match had their moments for us," Gavin said. "Everyone put their mind and focus on what their next job was to the best of their ability and we started to string a lot of positive contacts together, taking the pressure off everyone.

"I've been fortunate enough to have been through a lot of comebacks in state tournament matches but this might have been the biggest one I've been a part of. I'm really proud of them for not rolling over at the end because a lot of teams would have. I've never had a team with a bigger comeback in the third set."

Mundelein coach Calaeb Campbell was proud of his first team at Mundelein.

"Our girls continued to work hard every single day," he said. "It's those serve receive moments where they get on a run and you have to try and fight it off but unfortunately we couldn't. But kudos to them for continuing to stay in the game completely. I am super proud of what we have developed at Mundelein this year and am looking forward to what we have coming down the pipe in the future."

Krech served the Pirates to a 4-0 lead, getting a kill from Erin McGinn for the fourth point.

A sideout kill by Ciara West and an ace by Norah Emos got Mundelein to within 4-2 before the Pirates jumped ahead 8-2 with 3 service points from Brianna Sequo, including a kill by Addison Dersnah for the eighth point. But the Mustangs charged back, tying the set at 12-12 on a block by West.

The set was then tied at 12, 13, 15, 18 and 19 before a service error, an ace by Sarah Choi and a kill by Kampa put the Mustangs ahead 22-19.

A kill by Josilyn Wadas pushed the Mustangs' lead to 23-20.

Moments later, a lift call on Palatine and an ace by Emso gave the Mustangs a 25-21 win.

In Set 2, nobody led by more than 3 points until Palatine pulled ahead 23-19.

The Pirates gained the lead at 18-15 thanks to an ace and 2 service points by Krech, forcing Mundelein to call timeout.

The Mustangs came back to tie it at 18 in a third-hit save by senior Bella Feijoo.

But Palatine got 7 of the final 8 points, capped by 3 straight service points from Hanson, including an ace for the 23rd point and hitting errors for the 25-19 win.

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