A coach from another school, while watching T.F. South play on Saturday, said of the Rebels in a most complimentary manner, “They’re monsters.”
And while it wasn’t exactly like Godzilla stomping all over Tokyo, it can be said with conviction that South stood tall in capturing its first Oak Lawn Invitational title since 2005, beating Providence in the championship match 25-21, 22-25, 25-13.
There was Crystal Lee with 10 kills and seven blocks. Briana Lilly with nine kills and eight blocks. Leah Lagestee with eight blocks and six kills. Jenna Pasko with seven blocks.
In Set 3 alone, nine of the Rebels’ blocks fell to the floor for points.
“We work on it a lot … so much … almost too much,” the 6-foot-2 Lilly said with a laugh. “But it really, really helps when you get down to crunch time.
“It takes us a minute to kind of adjust, but we really get in tune with the other team and with our own team. Eventually, we don’t even have to talk. We kind of sense where we are, and we can just get that block up every time.”
Other standouts for South (16-1) in the title match were Ashtyn Kapovich (19 digs) and Abagale Mullen (32 assists).
Claire Urchell and Annie Cummings had six kills each, while Rachel Alles added five and Megan Falls four for Providence (11-4).
The Celtics surged near the end of Set 2 behind clutch kills by Cummings. The Rebels then broke the match open with an 18-4 Set 3 knockdown punch that featured runs of two, three seven and five points.
Lilly was a major factor early on with a kill and a block for their first two points and back-to-back blocks for points four and five. The Rebels had only five hits for kill in the third set, but with the wall they put up at the net they didn’t really need them.
What they needed in the semifinal match against Lincoln-Way North was a libero. And for much of Set 1 they didn’t have one.
While Kapovich was racing to get to Oak Lawn after taking her ACT test at school, the Rebels fell behind 20-8 in Set 1. After Kapovich arrived and provided seven digs and two assists, South bounced back to record a 15-25, 25-21, 25-12 victory.
“If it wasn’t for (Kapovich) we probably wouldn’t have won that match,” Lee said. “The ball control was terrible so we couldn’t do our offense.
“If we could have gotten the pass up we could have used our offense more often, but because the pass wasn’t there we couldn’t run our offense as well as we could (later).”
Providence advanced to the title match with a 24-26, 25-20, 25-12 victory over Oak Lawn. The host Spartans (9-3) later were led by Simona Tomczak (8 kills, 6 digs), Becky Bradshaw (5 kills, 7 digs) and Christina Egan (14 assists) in a 27-25, 25-22 victory over Lincoln-Way North (12-3).
Shepard (13-6) captured the Silver bracket championship, defeating Lincoln-Way West 25-16, 25-11 and Portage (Ind.) 25-18, 25-22. Lincoln-Way West (13-7) rebounded from the Shepard loss to beat Romeoville 25-15, 25-23.
Richards (13-4) won the Bronze bracket crown via a 25-21, 25-8 victory over Evergreen Park.