Girls volleyball: St. Charles East, Kull not finished yet

  • St. Charles East's Tatum Ahrens (21) and Natalee Rush (9) go up for a block during a Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against Willowbrook on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022.

    St. Charles East's Tatum Ahrens (21) and Natalee Rush (9) go up for a block during a Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against Willowbrook on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Willowbrook's Calli Kenny sets the ball during their Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against St. Charles East on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022.

    Willowbrook's Calli Kenny sets the ball during their Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against St. Charles East on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Willowbrook's Elisa Chivilo returns the ball during their Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against St. Charles East on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022.

    Willowbrook's Elisa Chivilo returns the ball during their Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against St. Charles East on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Willowbrook's Calli Kenny goes up for a kill during their Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against St. Charles East on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022.

    Willowbrook's Calli Kenny goes up for a kill during their Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against St. Charles East on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Willowbrook's Grace Conley returns the ball during their Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against St. Charles East on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022.

    Willowbrook's Grace Conley returns the ball during their Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against St. Charles East on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Willowbrook's Anna Marinier goes up for a kill.

    Willowbrook's Anna Marinier goes up for a kill. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • St. Charles East Head Coach Jennie Kull talks to her team following their Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final win over Willowbrook on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022.

    St. Charles East Head Coach Jennie Kull talks to her team following their Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final win over Willowbrook on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • St. Charles East Head Coach Jennie Kull celebrates following their Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final win over Willowbrook on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022.

    St. Charles East Head Coach Jennie Kull celebrates following their Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final win over Willowbrook on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • St. Charles East's Lia Schneider returns the ball during a Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against Willowbrook on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022.

    St. Charles East's Lia Schneider returns the ball during a Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against Willowbrook on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • St. Charles East's Maya Lopez bumps the ball during a Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against Willowbrook on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022.

    St. Charles East's Maya Lopez bumps the ball during a Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against Willowbrook on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • St. Charles East's Natalee Rush (9) gets the ball over the net during a Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against Willowbrook on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022.

    St. Charles East's Natalee Rush (9) gets the ball over the net during a Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against Willowbrook on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • St. Charles East's Kate Goudreau goes up for a kill during a Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against Willowbrook on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022.

    St. Charles East's Kate Goudreau goes up for a kill during a Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against Willowbrook on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Willowbrook's Hannah Kenny (6) and Hope Reckamp (11) go up for a block from St. Charles East's Alexis Crossen (22) during the Class 4A Proviso West sectional final on Wednesday.

    Willowbrook's Hannah Kenny (6) and Hope Reckamp (11) go up for a block from St. Charles East's Alexis Crossen (22) during the Class 4A Proviso West sectional final on Wednesday. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Willowbrook's Hannah Kenny gets the ball over the net during their Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against St. Charles East on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022.

    Willowbrook's Hannah Kenny gets the ball over the net during their Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final against St. Charles East on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • St. Charles East players celebrate their Class 4A Proviso West sectional final win over Willowbrook on Wednesday.

    St. Charles East players celebrate their Class 4A Proviso West sectional final win over Willowbrook on Wednesday. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

 
 
Updated 11/2/2022 8:52 PM

St. Charles East has another date with destiny.

Kate Goudreau, Lia Schneider and the rest of the Saints proved the significance of opposing win-loss records, once on the court, can go out the window.

 

The match, ultimately, still needs to be played.

According to Schneider, St. Charles East coach Jennie Kull's message to the team before prevailing 25-23, 25-17 in the Class 4A Proviso West Sectional final over the defending sectional champion, Willowbrook -- to capture the Saints' first Class 4A sectional plaque since 2018 -- was: "'Just play hard. Ain't no stopping us now. That's our [team] song, too."

The Warriors entered Wednesday's match riding a 29-match wining streak and had just two losses. The only time they'd been swept in a match all season was on Sept. 3 to Metea Valley, the defending Class 4A champion.

St. Charles East rose to the occasion to ultimately ensure Kull, who is retiring at season's end, has at least one more ride along with her Saints. Their next challenge is Loyola Academy at 6 p.m. Friday at Hinsdale Central.

"I definitely did think that we played our best match," said Schneider, the Saints' star libero. "It was one of the best ones we played energy-wise ... when we look at [other team's] records, I don't think it matters to us. We don't really base it off of records. We just watch [and then] they're like anybody else to us."

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In the first set, the Saints built a surprising 9-3 early lead, but Willowbrook managed to claw right back in behind the combination of Calli and Hannah Kenny and Natalie Cipriano. The Saints and Warriors eventually tied 10 times all the way up to point 23. After a Warriors attack error brought it to set point, Goudreau pounded down her fourth kill of the set.

East (32-7) again jumped out to a 10-3 advantage in the second set. The Saints ultimately kept their foot on the gas pedal by a colossal combination of Schneider's skillful digs, Musial's sets, Goudreau's work on the outside and Natalee Rush's blocking and spikes at the net at different stages.

Willowbrook (36-3) managed to pull within 20-16 on Hannah Kenny's kill, but, in the end, Goudreau's block at match point brought their season to a close.

"I'm blessed," Kull said. "They're taking care of me this season. They're taking care of their seniors, each other; they love each other. That's what I knew that it was a special thing they we had. Lia played amazing. Kate played amazing. Natalee; Maya [Lopez as a defensive specialist], she played great. It was really fun."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Goudreau, who finished with 14 kills, put together another signature playoff performance.

"We've literally been preparing for this moment all year," Goudreau said. "So many hours. We prepared yesterday for this. We had a hard practice getting ready for this and I think we got a lot done yesterday. We were calm coming in to today and we knew we could do it. It was more of what we do, rather than what they're doing, so we just focused on us instead of focusing on the other team and I think it worked well for us."

Musial had four kills and 19 assists to captain the offense. Rush had four kills and Lexi Crossen had three kills. Defensively, Schneider was credited with 13 digs and Lopez had seven.

"Kull said before when we were going over rotations and what we're going to do for this game: 'There's no weak person on our team to bring us down,'" Rush said, "so that makes it really easy for us to win because there's no weak link that a team can aim at. We all have a good strike that helps us win."

Willowbrook, meanwhile, was paced by Hannah Kenny's 10 kills. Calli Kenny heated up in set two and finished with five kills and three aces. Cipriano had four kills.

"I just told them we have a lot to be proud of," Warriors coach Irene Mason said. "This team accomplished a lot that a lot of people thought we weren't able to. It wasn't until last year that Willowbrook even got on the map [to be] recognized and known [for high-level volleyball]. For us now for this to be the expectation, to be in sectional championship games, I told them how proud I am."

"I told the seniors thank-you for everything that they helped shape and make this program," Mason said. "I told the underclassmen to remember this feeling, remember that score. When we get back into the gym to train again next year, this is where we want to be -- coming out with a win [next] time."

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