Waubonsie Valley continues dominance over Neuqua Valley in tourney final

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The Waubonsie Valley girls volleyball team threw the adage of the difficulty of defeating the same team three times in the same season out the window on Saturday afternoon. Meeting district and Upstate Eight Valley rival Neuqua Valley for the fourth time this season, Waubonsie Valley had few issues in capturing its Warrior Blast Tournament with a straight-set victory. Rachel Minarick, the Warriors’ do-it-all setter and right-side hitter, powered a match-high 13 kills to frame the Waubonsie Valley 25-12 and 25-11 championship verdict over the Wildcats in Aurora. Waubonsie Valley has won all four times the two programs have met this fall. “(Minarick) is the best player we’ve ever had (in program history),” said Waubonsie Valley coach Kristen Stuart. “We have had a lot of Division I players, but we have never had a Big Ten player before.” There was debate as if it were the first time Waubonsie Valley had ever captured its own 12-team tournament before. “It’s the first time we’ve ever won (in my seven-year tenure),” said Stuart, a former standout for Naperville Central in the late 1990s. Waubonsie Valley (21-3) had nothing but straight-set victories in its five matches to cruise to the title. The Warriors advanced to the championship match against Neuqua Valley with a 25-20 and 25-9 victory over Plainfield Central. The Wildcats (11-12), who eased past Batavia in straight games to reach the finals, dropped five quick points to begin the title match. Waubonsie Valley soon extended its cushion with 11 of the first 12 points, but the first-game theme of runs would alternate to the Wildcats’ side. Neuqua Valley had an 8-2 burst to close to within 13-10. But Minarick and Co. would put their collective foot down with authority. Minarick, the Michigan State-bound all-state candidate, would thoroughly dominate play over the remainder of the match. “It’s hard to beat a team four times, especially a rival,” said Minarick, who finished with a match-high 13 kills, augmented by seven assists. “Our goal was to win this tournament; we’ve never won it before.” Waubonsie Valley, behind the spirited play of Minarick, Brooke Burling (four kills, seven digs), Becky Breuer (four kills), Katie Campbell (four blocks), Stephanie Tang (seven digs), and Lauren Hiller (11 assists), never allowed its sister school a respite in the second game. The Warriors sprinted to leads of 8-1, 14-3 and 19-9 in securing its second double-digit victory. “Waubonsie is a great team,” said Neuqua Valley coach Kelly Simon, who team lost twice to the Warriors at Benet and once in the conference regular season. “We didn’t have the disconnect on our team (that we had the last time we played).” Neuqua Valley landed Brenna Dunckel and Kayln Hugdahl on the all-tournament team. The Wildcats’ Emily Krachenfels had team-highs of 45 assists and 28 digs in the their five matches. Batavia defeated Plainfield Central for a second time in the tournament to win third place. “I am very pleased going 4-1 (over the weekend),” Batavia coach Lori Trippi-Payne said. “We needed some kids to step for us. Our kids played very well. We had 10 block-kills (in the third-place match).” Jancy Lundberg (six) and Shea Thayer combined for all the blocks in the Bulldogs’ win over Plainfield Central. Shea Stanley had a match-high 10 kills for Batavia in the consolation final. All-tournament selection Lexie Lobdell led Metea Valley past Downers North in the fifth-place match.

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