Ryann DeJarld leads Mother McAuley to 32nd straight regional championship

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In the early stages of its playoff run, Mother McAuley knows every opponent along the way is going to throw everything it’s got at a Mighty Macs squad ranked among the best in the nation.

“We know we’re the ones with the target on our backs,” McAuley coach Jen DeJarld said. “Other teams are going to come in with nothing to lose. No one wants their season to lose, so they’re going to be desperate. We know we’re going to get everyone’s best shot.”

Homewood-Flossmoor was no exception Thursday night. The Vikings played well, especially in Game 2, but were no match for the Mighty Macs, who won their state-best 32nd regional championship with a 25-15, 25-16 victory in a Class 4A contest at T.F. North.

“A regional championship is a bigger deal than you’d think, even for Mother McAuley,” the Mighty Macs’ Ryann DeJarld said. “We started off a bit slow in Game 2, which we can do sometimes, but I’m proud of how we rebounded.”

DeJarld (10 kills, 12 digs), Maggie Scanlon (9 kills, 2 aces), Courtney Joyce (32 assists) and Carla Cahill (10 digs) led Mother McAuley (35-2), which will meet Lincoln-Way North in Tuesday’s Sandburg Sectional semifinals.

Kandace Tate (4 kills) and Skylar Hildebrand (13 digs) paced H-F (25-12).

The Vikings challenged McAuley in Game 2, jumping to a 6-3 lead behind a pair of kills from Tate. H-F led 7-5 when the Mighty Macs went on a 7-2 run, sparked by two kills from Kelsey Clark (7 kills) to take the lead for good.

“We took a bit of a break at the start of Game 2, which we’re making it an emphasis not to do,” Scanlon said. “We had to get our energy going. We started making better passes and playing better.”

DeJarld had six kills in the opening game as McAuley jumped to an 8-2 lead and cruised.

“It seems like we end up playing them every year,” H-F coach Tony Kruse said. “Our girls did a nice job. They fought hard. They played well all season. If the season’s going to end, I guess losing to McAuley isn’t a bad way for it to happen.”

McAuley, meanwhile, will prepare for sectionals and the next stop towards state.

“We know what state’s like and we know what we’d be missing out on if we didn’t make it,” Jen DeJarld said. “Our girls are focused on getting there.”

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