The close-up view Burlington Central coach Marv Leavitt and staff had of Marian Central Tuesday prior to their own sectional semifinal victory left an impression.
“They’re a powerhouse,” Leavitt said.
Central runs up against Marian Central in the championship of the Burlington Central Class 3A Sectional. The winner of the Thursday 7 p.m. matchup advances to the Antioch Supersectional Saturday at 1 p.m. against either Latin or Payton.
“It will be a tough challenge,” Leavitt said. “Right now we’re real proud to make the Sweet Sixteen.
“They [Marian] had blocking, they had tough hitting and good setting. It will be a tough match for us.”
It’s not like the Rockets were unfamiliar with the skills of some of the Hurricanes.
“I know a couple of girls on the team,” Central middle hitter Makenna Jensen said. “I played club [Fusion] with [Bethany] Bucci and Frankie Taylor.”
Burlington Central (27-11) has the home court edge against Marian (22-16) and it proved a factor Tuesday as they ran their homecourt mark to 9-0 and overall streak to 10 by beating Lakes 25-20, 25-22.
“It’s our home court and we wanted to protect [it],” Jensen said of Tuesday’s win.
The usual raucous Central student section got the Rockets going early in each game against Lakes. All areas contributed as Jensen and Lauren Wiltsie had seven kills and Jenna Schudel six, while in the back row libero Allie O’Reilly and defensive specialist Aly Detamble had 15 digs apiece and setter Maddie Barry had nine digs and 18 assists.
Noting that Central has no one taller than 5-10, Lakes coach Karen Cheek was surprised when the Rockets enjoyed a solid night at the net.
“We were watching them in warmups and they were about the same height as us,” she said. “We didn’t realize such short girls could swing so hard at us. So we were kind of on our heels a little bit.”
Marian Central will come in with a few girls taller than the Rockets, including middle Hannah Davis, who put up a strong block in the Hurricanes’ 25-16, 25-15 win over Regina Dominican. Taylor, an outside hitter, is like Central’s Wiltsie and plays much taller than her height.
“Right now, I don’t care in the state tournament what the score is — I just want to advance,” said Leavitt, whose team last made it this far in 2008 when it was second in the state.
Harvest Christian seems on a collision course with defending state champion Keith Country Day after beating Newark 25-17, 25-9 behind nine kills from freshman Mikayla Robinson and six by Sydney Doby.
The Lions face St. Francis de Sales on their home court in Thursday’s finals at 7 p.m. after St. Francis de Sales beat North Shore Country Day 25-21, 25-12 Tuesday.
The winner advances to play in the Westminster Christian Supersectional Saturday at 6 p.m., where it could face Keith Country Day.
St. Charles North (31-5) tries to do what it couldn’t do in the regular season and beat Geneva Thursday in the finals of the Geneva Sectional.
Despite sharing the Upstate Eight River title with St. Charles East, North was beaten 25-22, 17-25, 26-24 by Geneva Sept. 24.
North swept rival East 25-22, 25-19 Tuesday to make finals behind seven kills by Taylor Krage and six from her sister, Daley.
North is the only remaining Class 4A area team as Warren ousted Huntley (24-14) Tuesday at the Belvidere North semifinal, 25-22, 25-21.