Waubonsie Valley holds off Bolingbrook

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The Waubonsie Valley girls volleyball team can accurately say they are now battle-tested in the postseason.

After winning Tuesday’s first set handily over regional host Bolingbrook in the semifinals, the Warriors received a mighty challenge from the Raiders the rest of the way, before ultimately pulling out a hard-fought 25-15, 32-30 victory en route to Thursday’s regional final.

The Warriors (29-7) faced set-point five times before defeating the Raiders (16-19-2), who left it all on the floor trying to send the match into a third set.

The match featured a showdown between two of the best players in the state, Rachel Minarick of Waubonsie Valley and Krissa Gearring of Bolingbrook.

And both senior big hitters, who have been teammates in club ball, delivered big-time as Gearring finished the evening with her season-high 19 kills to Minarick’s 17 for Waubonsie.

“It was just a relief to win that match,” said Minarick. “At the end we played with determination and stayed composed. We stayed together mentally and I’m happy we could pull it out.”

“We played our hearts out,” said Gearring. “Win or lose, I’m so happy I could finish with this team in a match like this.”

The early signs of Bolingbrook’s challenge to the Warriors were there in Set 2, when the Raiders jumped out to a12-7 lead and Waubonsie coach Kristen Stuart called a timeout.

“She told us to play more aggressively and stick to the game-plan we made from scouting reports,” said Minarick. “We’ve come back from bigger deficits so we knew we had it in us.”

And the Warriors did rally, tying it at 14-14 led by Minarick’s four kills and a block.

Waubonsie Valley led 23-19 and seemed well on its way to closing things out when the Raiders, led by Gearring and Kennedy Hulittle went by them and reached 25 first.

After that it was the Warriors with their backs to the wall the rest of the way. They trailed 30-29 when a big kill by Minarick, a Bolingbrook hitting error, and a kill for match-point by Katie Campbell closed the match in the Warriors’ favor.

“I don’t expect anything to be easy in the playoffs,” said Stuart. “Bolingbrook was never ready to give up. They made a lot of great saves to keep them in it. We did a great job siding out at the end and holding our composure. Our team-blocking was really strong all night.”

Campbell had seven blocks and Taylor Dunwell had six blocks, while Minraick and Caroline Cordes contributed five blocks apiece.

“Nothing touched the ground,” said Bolingbrook coach Andrea Bercot. “Waubonsie played everything. There’s nothing more our team could have done, and as a coach that’s all you can want from your team. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

In addition to her 19 kills, Gearring also had nine digs and two blocks.

“Krissa is probably the best all-around player to ever come through this program,” Bercot added. “She can pass, hit, serve, set and play phenomenal defense.”

Nicole Gambon had 13 assists and Leah Rose had six digs for the Raiders.

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