The third time was definitely no charm, but it was a battle.
Waubonsie Valley entered Thursday’s Class 4A Glenbard South Regional final with two previous losses to Upstate Eight Conference rival St. Charles East.
The Warriors started slowly, but made it close before falling 25-21, 26-24 to the Saints.
“Talk about Waubonsie Valley not wanting to end their season and playing as hard as they could,” St. Charles East coach Jennie Kull said. “They did an excellent job.”
So did her third-seeded Saints (29-8), led by junior Avery Macklin’s nine kills and senior Mikaela Mosquera’s six kills and six blocks.
They advance to Tuesday’s 6:30 p.m. semifinal of the Class 4A Bartlett Sectional against second-seeded Glenbard West. The top four sectional seeds advanced, with top-seeded Benet meeting fourth-seeded Geneva in the first semifinal at 5:30 p.m.
St. Charles East came out strong, opening a 7-0 lead on the serving of Chloe Rojas in a run that featured just one point off a Waubonsie Valley error.
Junior Caroline Cordes finally broke the run with a kill off Lauren Hiller’s set, but back-to-back kills from senior Megan Schildmeyer made it 9-1 Saints, who appeared set to cruise.
Cordes was just getting warmed up, though. The Warriors (23-14) went on a 17-9 run to knot it at 18. It featured three kills and a pair of blocks from Cordes.
“She’s been stepping up for us in the postseason and, really, all season long,” Waubonsie Valley coach Kristin Didier said.
The teams were tied at 19 on another Cordes kill, but middle hitter Mosquera had a kill and service ace, followed by an Avery Macklin kill to close out Game 1.
Waubonsie Valley led by as many as five points — 17-12 and 22-17 — but the Saints rallied to pull it out on a five-point run after trailing 24-21. It featured a Schildmeyer kill and four-point service run aided by a couple power spikes off the strong left hand of Macklin, including another game (and match) winner.
“I felt like had we started a little bit stronger, Game 1 might have been different,” Didier said. “We carried that momentum from the end of Game 1 into Game 2 and started off really strong.
“We had to close (Game 2) out and, obviously, had a lot of opportunities. They have a very big block and it’s hard to put balls down sometimes. I thought our passing could have been a little tighter.
“It’s hard to say what would have happened in a Game 3. It still could have gone their way but it would have been fun to see. They’re a great team. We wish them well.”
Brooke Burling finished with six kills and two blocks to lead the Warriors, who got six kills and three blocks, all in the second game, from Taylor Dunwell. Hiller added 17 assists.