St. Francis clips playoff foe Joliet Catholic

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It was good, but maybe not as good as it could have been.

Navigating a brutal Class 3A Timothy Christian Regional, St. Francis won and advanced, but according to the Spartans’ Lisa Mordell, the squad left plenty of room for improvement.

Coming out firing like they knew they could, the Spartans were dominant at Tuesday’s Class 3A Coal City Sectional, beating Joliet Catholic 25-10, 25-18 in a semifinal.

“Our first playoff games we didn’t come out and play as ‘us,’ ” Mordell said. “We talked in the locker room that we had to come out and take the lead right away. Show who we are, not let them show us.”

The Spartans (34-4), who met Joliet Catholic in the playoffs for the eighth consecutive season, will face host Coal City at 7 p.m. Thursday for the sectional title.

The Spartans featured a balanced attack Tuesday, with Molly Haggerty (seven kills), Becca Shearer (five kills), Mary Boken (four kills) and Kamryn Malloy (three kills) leading the way.

It was Mordell’s strong showing at the service line that set the tone. After a Malloy kill early in the first set, Mordell’s 9-0 service run, featuring just one ace, put St. Francis up 11-1. Joliet Catholic accounted for six of St. Francis’ first 11 points courtesy of errors.

“I kept getting zone signs from our coaches telling me where to hit,” Mordell said. “I thought, ‘Get it in, get it in.’ If I serve it in, the team will take care of the rest.”

The Spartans raced to a 14-5 lead in the second set, Joliet Catholic (23-15) getting no closer than five points late.

Julia Shemaitis (five kills), Madeline Grimm (three kills) and Mary Murphy (two kills, seven assists) led the Angels.

“We didn’t execute, didn’t do what we had practiced and, obviously, came out a little nervous,” said Shemaitis, a senior team captain. “(It) came down to a lack of execution. The juniors on this team grew so much; I hope I was a good role model to them.”

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