After finishing the regular season with an overall record of 14-16, the Evanston Township High School girls’ volleyball team entered the Hoffman Estates Regionals as the No. 4 seed, as part of the 22-team Maine East Sectional, with their eyes on a regional title. In the regional semifinals on Oct. 28, the Kits beat Taft, the No. 20 seed, in straight sets, 25-14 and 25-13. In beating Taft, the Kits advanced to the regional title match against fifth seeded Lake Park on Oct. 30. In that match, the Kits beat the Lancers in three sets, 17-25, 25-16, and 27-25.
The Kits jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first set, but the Lancers went on a 13-4 run to give them a 13-7 lead. The Kits were unable to bounce back as they dropped the first set 25-17. When asked what she told the team after the first set, head coach Pam MacPherson said, “I brought us back to two other matches, one that we lost but we could not even walk after because we left everything on the court, and one that we just did not focus and I said whatever happens right now (in the next set), if you want it, you have to leave everything out on the court.”
In the second set, the Kits did just that, as they once again built an early lead at 7-3. But the Lancers bounced right back and tied it at 9-9. But that would be the closest the Lancers would get, as the Kits closed out the set on a 16-7 run, allowing them to take the second set 25-16. With the teams splitting the first two sets, that set up a winner-take-all third set.
In the fateful third set, the Lancers came out swinging and held leads of 6-2, and 12-3, and were seemingly in control and on their way to the Sectionals. But the Kits refused to quit and rallied to tie the score at 24-24. After the teams exchanged points, making it 25-25, the Kits took their first lead (since holding a brief 2-1 advantage early), at 26-25, and scored the following point, giving them the third set victory, 27-25, along with the regional title.
“I think we fought. I do not think technically we played extremely well but I think we fought and that is the best I can ask for,” said MacPherson. “They fought teeth and nail for that and every single girl made a contribution.”
Regarding her team’s performance in the third set and the fact they were able to come back from such a large deficit, MacPherson said, “I think we started to panic a little bit (in the third set) so we had to try and slow the game down and let our girls take a breath. And I think the three of us as a coaching staff (including assistants Eric Shoemaker and Mike McDermott) really contributed in figuring out when should we do the substitutions, when should we do the timeouts. I think that was just slowing down the game and trying to regain control and trying to stop the panic.”
The Coach added, “I am so proud of the fight. Number one thing, even if we would have lost that game at the end, they came back from a 12-3 deficit. They fought and fought to the end right there, and that is the way that you want to end the season is to fight. Whether it is a win or a loss, you want to keep fighting.”
In winning the Regional title, the Kits advanced to the Maine East Sectional semifinals but lost to No. 1 seed Loyola Academy on Nov. 4.