The OPRF girls volleyball team features plenty of size along its front line and an excellent defensive team across the board. The Huskies put their impressive defensive prowess on full display during their 25-15, 25-23 win over Glenbard South in Thursday's Morton Sectional final in the Class 4A playoffs. OPRF (30-9) faces Mother McAuley (37-2) in Saturday's 1 p.m. Lyons Township Supersectional.
Leading 17-13 in the opening game against Glenbard South, the Huskies went on an 8-2 run to seize an early advantage. OPRF appeared en route to a relatively comfortable straight games sweep up 18-11 in Game 2, but the Raiders caught fire with an 8-0 to seize a 19-18 lead. However, the Huskies fashioned a late-game run again to pull out a 25-23 score and huge match victory.
Symone Speech led the Huskies' stellar defensive effort with seven blocks and also two kills, while Amy Schembari contributed four blocks, 13 assists and two kills. Allie Nelson dug out 12 balls and Ariel Hamby also shined defensively. Collectively, the Huskies were effective containing the Raiders' top offensive threats, Sydney Bauman and Tarah Valdez.
Kiley Nelson led the OPRF offense with eight kills.
Mother McAuley punched its ticket to meet the Huskies in Saturday's supersectional showdown via a 25-20, 25-16 victory over Sandburg on Thursday. Ryann DeJarld (11 kills, seven digs), Kayla Caffey (four kills, two blocks) and Courtney Joyce (25 assists) carried the Mighty Macs to victory.
Huskies outlast Downers Grove North in sectional semifinal thriller
The Oak Park and River Forest High School girls volleyball team defeated a familiar opponent en route to its 29th win this season and an appearance in the Morton Sectional final of the Class 4A playoffs. The Huskies (29-9) defeated West Suburban Conference Silver Division rival Downers Grove North 25-19, 24-26, 25-22 in the sectional semifinals.
OPRF faces Glenbard South on Thursday (7 p.m.) in the sectional championship match on the Morton West campus.
Glenbard South edged Lyons Township 17-25, 25-19, 25-23 to secure its spot in the title match.
"It feels so good to advance to the sectional final," OPRF sophomore Ariel Hamby said. "The main thing we were focusing on was keeping our head in the game, even under all the pressure. We just wanted to keep focused and not let anything get the best of us."
With the score knotted at 19-19 in a tense Game 3, OPRF senior outside hitter Kiley Nelson smashed a kill putting the Huskies up 20-19. OPRF sealed the deal after that turning point, highlighted by a 3-0 run to close the match.
"After losing the second game, we kept our focus," Hamby said. "We had to pull together; we knew that every point was important the rest of the match."
Nelson led the Huskies with 11 kills, a block and an ace, while her sister, Allie (a sophomore libero) tallied 11 of the team's 54 total digs. Schembari dished out 28 assists while Hamby recorded nine kills and two blocks. Tessa Saraceno (10 kills) and Symone Speech (six kills, three blocks) also contributed for the Huskies.
-Marty Farmer contributed to this story