Clinching a championship is always more fun when there is a challenge.
Host Oak Forest gave that to T.F. South Thursday before the Rebels put their signature on the South Suburban Blue title with a 25-15, 25-21 win.
When it came to contributing, plenty of Rebels signed in.
Jenna Pasko had the biggest all-around numbers with nine kills, nine digs and six blocks. Crystal Lee added eight kills and 10 digs, Briana Lilly six kills and Gabbe Mullen 17 assists for South (21-5, 11-1).
The Rebels can sew up the title outright with a win in their final league match against Argo. They beat second-place Tinley Park in a three-game classic on Oct. 7.
“We were kind of the unexpected team to win conference,” Lee said. “No one saw us coming. So for us to come out and play as well as we did made it a big day (Thursday) for us.”
The 5-foot-11 Pasko was seemingly always in the right place at the right time for the Rebels.
During a Game 2 comeback from as much as an 11-5 deficit, she produced points on one booming spike, a block, a rainbow from the back row that found a soft spot and a tip for kill.
All the while she played solid front and back row defense, her final block part of a 6-0 run to end the match.
“It felt really good,” Pasko said. “But there was a lot of teamwork. I give a lot of credit to Crystal (Lee). She calls out where to hit. That’s how I got most of my kills.”
Last, but not least among the South contributors was Brittany Krusza, whose lefty serves bedeviled Oak Forest’s defense during the final momentum change, and resulted in one ace and three other good opportunities for Lee to put the ball down.
“I just decided to stay down (with the serves) to try and make them effective,” Krusza said. “Either way, up or down, I try to make hard serves and get an ace.”
The match was Oak Forest’s first since Oct. 2. The Bengals looked rusty in Game 1, but bounced back nicely in the second, Alex Lambros getting them off to a good start with a three-point serving run and later adding a block and a kill.
Falling behind for the first time at 19-18, Oak Forest rallied back in front 21-19 on kills by Ana Lambros and Alyssa Kolecki and an ace by Alex Lambros, before South reasserted itself.
“Once we got our intensity up it was a great game,” Alex Lambros said. “I’m proud of that and I’m proud of my team because we cooperated really well. I couldn’t have asked for a better team (effort).”
Alex Lambros finished with five kills, Jenna Brown three kills, Brittany McManigal five digs and Renee Rosko four digs for Oak Forest.