From the opening tip of pool play on Friday, Lincoln-Way North had its foot on the accelerator during the Lincoln-Way Central tournament.
“We said coming into this tournament that we’ve never done better than third,” junior Ali Geary said. “We definitely wanted to get to the championship game, and when we got here we definitely wanted to execute and get first place.”
North left no stones unturned, completing a five-match, 10-game sweep of the field with a 25-10, 25-17 victory Saturday over Lincoln-Way East.
Geary had five kills, seven digs and three aces, Rachel Burkman nine kills, Valen Manns six kills and Samantha Ritter 22 assists as the Phoenix improved to 30-2 and tied last year’s all-time record for victories.
“This is one of the best teams we’ve had,” Burkman said. “It’s really exciting. We all get pumped up before every game, so it’s really fun to be playing with everybody.
“Our intensity was high all weekend. Sam [Ritter] did a good job setting, and splitting the block. Our hitters did a good job putting the ball down. And we served aggressive. It was a mixture of everything.”
The title match had some intense moments, but not many. North cruised away early in Game 1, but the Griffins (21-12) fought back from a 7-2 deficit in Game 2 to take a 14-13 lead as Carly Collins and Sarah Dobrich combined for a flurry of kills on feeds from Leah Seielstad and Mel Weller.
“We’ve been really good at coming back in tough situations,” Seielstad said. “[North] has good all-around players, but we can combat that with our good defense and we can always put down a good swing.”
Burkman stopped East in its tracks with a kill from the left side. It started an 8-0 run that also included two kills by Burkman and a block by Geary.
“We were really hoping to see [North] again because we played them early in the season and we didn’t get the result we wanted (a 26-24, 25-20 loss),” Seielstad said. “We played tough against them [Saturday], and hope to see them again in the playoffs.”
Seielstad finished with eight assists and five service points. Maddie Nirchi added 10 digs, Weller nine digs and Kailey Hackett seven service points and five assists for East.
North advanced to the title match via a 25-15, 25-14 win over T.F. South. East transferred after beating Oak Lawn 25-15, 25-20.
In the third-place match, T.F. South (25-6) prevailed against Oak Lawn 16-25, 25-21, 25-16.
Marian Catholic captured the Bronze Division title with a 25-16, 25-20 victory over Lincoln-Way West.