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Girls Volleyball: Benet bounces Lemont

Lemont's Tess Cannreacts after missing return serve against Benet Thursday sectional title match. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media

Lemont's Tess Cannon reacts after missing the return on a serve against Benet on Thursday in the sectional title match. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 3, 2012 6:40AM



Lemont threw some pretty good defense against Benet in Thursday night’s Class 4A sectional final at Neuqua Valley.

“They’re in the sectional final for a reason,” Benet coach Brad Baker said. “They play great defense, not just good. They’re a great defensive team. They make you earn points. Which we did.”

Benet earned points in bunches Thursday, using a 16-5 run in Game 1 to pull away from a 5-all tie and closing Game 2 on a 15-5 run to advance to Saturday’s supersectional at Normal Community West with a 25-14, 25-15 victory.

Cara Mattaliano led the Redwings (37-2) with 10 kills and 10 digs, Hannah Kaminsky added 25 assists, 6-foot-3 middle Brittany Pavich contributed six kills and an ace, and Nicki Barnes had five kills and three aces.

Kiley Rendak led Lemont (26-13) with five kills, while Cara Howell, Kelly Ferguson and Ali Lund all had four. Megan Litoborski contributed 14 assists for the Indians, who made Benet work for everything.

“That was the best defensive game I’ve ever seen us play,” Lemont coach Chris Zogata said. “The girls played so hard on defense. Just the fact that we stayed in rallies defensively was awesome. We really were going to make them earn every point.

“It’s very hard with their size and our size to match up,” Zogata added. “You just try to keep in it defensively, serve tough and do the best you can.”

Ferguson’s kill had Lemont even at 5 early in Set 1 when a Pavich slam, back-to-back aces by Barnes and a block by Kaminsky allowed Benet to open a 10-5 lead.

Pavich, Rachael Fara and Abby Willett combined for nine kills in Set 1, but in Set 2 Kaminsky rediscovered Mattaliano on the outside. The 6-1 senior did not disappoint, pounding six kills as part of 10-2 run that broke a 10-all tie.

“The coaches really emphasize with me that if a player is hot to keep going to them,” Kaminsky said. “It clicked in my head that Cara was getting a kill every time she got the ball, so I kept going to her.”

Most teams have trouble matching up with Benet’s middles, but at 6-1, Mattaliano was another match-up problem for Lemont.

“What are you to do against them?” Zogata said. “They’re a small collegiate volleyball team.”

The sectional championship was the fourth in six years for Benet, but the Redwings have lost in the supersectional twice during that span.

“We know we have to work hard, we know we have to get on the floor and we know we have to pound the ball,” Mattaliano said. “They (Lemont) were picking everything up. We just had to think of new shots and hit it harder, hit it to different places and just stay in the game.”



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