Kyla Augustine leads St. Charles East into sectional final

Combine the blessed ignorance of youth under pressure and a bounty of volleyball experience, and you get Kyla Augustine.

She sure came through for St. Charles East.

Unfazed by the moment, the Saints sophomore slammed five of her 10 kills in the third game of the Saints’ 25-22, 20-25, 25-20 win over Glenbard West in Tuesday’s Class 4A Bartlett Sectional semifinal.

“It’s just another match,” Augustine said. “You know how to play, you know what to do. There’s just more on the line.”

On the line Thursday is a sectional final date with top seed Benet, which beat St. Charles East (30-9) three times during the regular season.

Saints coach Jennie Kull could only laugh and shake her head at the “reward.”

“Fourth time playing a team? Really? Oh my gosh,” Kull said. “Can you give us another team?”

Augustine wasted no time putting her fingerprints on Tuesday’s Game 3, putting down a kill for the first point.

She skied for a crosscourt hit to put the Saints ahead for good 11-10, and her monster shot off a defender made it 13-11.

Her final act, Augustine soared to spike a blistering shot off a Hilltoppers defender for the match’s penultimate point.

Moments later, a West tip sailed wide to end it.

“Kyla did some great things and she was confident,” Kull said. “They shut down our middles and our right sides weren’t as aggressive as other matches. What Kyla did was huge.”

Tuesday’s matches were in a way a sophomore showcase.

Benet sophomores Sara Nielsen and Veronica Snelling and Geneva’s Grace Loberg and Allyson Barrett played prominent roles.

Augustine only played JV last year, but the Fusion South club player isn’t exactly feeling her age.

“You spend so much time with these girls, at the end of the year it doesn’t make a difference who’s a senior and who’s a sophomore,” Augustine said.

Seniors Megan Schildmeyer and Meagan Smith had seven and five kills, respectively, and Anne Hughes 26 digs for the Saints.

Kull’s team beat Glenbard West (30-8) in two games at Autumnfest in October. That hardly lulled the veteran coach into a false sense of security, and her suspicions were realized when the Hilltoppers used a 6-0 run early in Game 2 to climb back down a game.

“They were tired that first time. We knew this was a different team — we’ve seen them,” Kull said. “They came to play tonight.”

Avery Macklin’s kill gave the Saints Game 1, Glenbard West assuming control of the second with three straight Patricia Stirb blocks out of an 18-18 tie.

The Hilltoppers’ last lead in the third came at 10-9, preceding a long hit and Augustine kill.

“We didn’t really give them credit for how good a team they were,” Hilltoppers’ Duke-bound outside Natalie Schilling said. “We played our hearts out but they were the better team tonight.”

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