Sandburg had already proven on a few occasions during the regular season that it had the capability of coming through when push came to shove.
Tuesday, the host Eagles were clutch when it counted in Game 1 in a Class 4A sectional semifinal against Marist.
Eventually, they seized control, then withstood a late Game 2 charge by Marist to post a 25-23, 25-18 victory that sends them into Thursday’s sectional title match against Mother McAuley.
Bridget Lebert had nine kills, Leah Lane seven kills, Julia Borschel five kills, and Sami Knight 15 assists and 13 digs for Sandburg (31-7).
For Marist (27-10), Colleen Reilly, Lizzie Zaleski and Cameron Enright had six kills each, Molly Mayo 22 assists and Carolyn Yerkes 18 digs.
The win was Sandburg’s second over Marist in three tries in 2013.
“We went in there with an attitude that we wanted to win,” Knight said. “It was all (about) the courage and everything. We just put the ball down. We played Sandburg volleyball.”
A punch and counter-punch first set saw Marist lead at one point by three, but in general the two teams traded points.
Sandburg led 24-21 after back-to-back kills by Lane, but Marist was able to force its way back to within 24-23. It was at that point Lane found her way to a soft Marist hit at the net and rifled it to the floor for the set winner.
“We try to not take those opportunities for granted and put them away when we can,” Lane said. “We all just wanted to push through the last points and if that meant putting the ball down or getting good ups, then that’s what we had to do.”
Game 2 saw Sandburg race to a 12-3 lead, but Marist didn’t go away. The RedHawks got back within 19-18 on a kill by Reilly, but Lebert came up huge for Marist with a kill and a block to start a 6-0 closing run.
“We just wanted to keep that lead,” Lebert said “We focused on the process, instead of the end result. One (point) at a time. That’s what we focused on.”