Even after his team fell 25-18, 25-20 to Lyons Township in the Class AA St. Ignatius Sectional semifinals last week, Oak Park and River Forest coach Don August was still focusing on the positive.

“I thought we had a nice season,” August said. “I’m very happy with the way things went. It’s not fun to lose, but overall I think we gained some good experience that will help us.”

Lyons used its big frontline to advance to the sectional final, where it went on to defeat Fenwick in two games.

“There’s no question that Lyons is an outstanding team,” August said. “But I thought we gave them a good match.”

Olivia Wilks led the way for the Huskies (22-15) with 16 assists, and Liz Davis added five kills, five digs and one block. Kendal Dirkin (four kills), Teresa Weik (four aces) and Becca Spira (three kills, one block) also chipped in during the loss.

“This was the first time we advanced to the sectional since 2001,” said August, whose team beat Nazareth 25-16, 29-27 to capture its own regional title. “Like I said, this experience should benefit us next year.”

While the Huskies kept the match close, Lyons controlled the play for the most part behind the solid play of Rachel August (seven kills)-the daughter of Don August-Christy Landschoot (20 assists), Megan Schilling (six kills) and Alison Salerno (three aces).

A 13-4 run by the Lions in Game 1 broke a nine-all tie and helped Lyons grab control at 22-13. A quick 7-0 spurt in Game 2 turned a 3-3 game into a 10-3 cushion for Lyons.

The Huskies showed some fight in their final game of the 2006 season when they cut the Lions’ lead to 22-18.

“We made some mistakes,” said August, whose team allowed Lyons to record 24 of its 50 points off serve. “But we battled and never gave up.”

While the losses of Davis and defensive specialist Maranda Herner among others will be tough to replace, Dirkin and Wilks are two of the key returnees.

In all, the Huskies have eight players returning for the 2007 campaign.

“We have a nice sophomore group coming, too,” August said. “So it will be interesting to see how we do next year.”

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