PRINCETON – Sycamore’s girls volleyball team went from below .500 in the regular-season to the brink of a supersectional.
However, the Spartans’ surprising postseason run ended in Thursday night’s Class 3A Princeton Sectional final, with LaSalle-Peru getting a 25-18, 25-20 win over Sycamore.
“We had a good season with a great run at the end,” Sycamore coach Eric Nore said. “I know teams that have losing records aren’t supposed to make it this far. Never had that opinion of my team. We knew what we had, knew what we had to do to be successful and I’m really proud of my girls, and the future that lies ahead of us.”
The Spartans (19-21) started strong in both sets, but eventually the LaSalle-Peru (33-3) attack was too much for Sycamore.
“They had a really strong offense. They’re a good team; they’re pretty tall,” Sycamore senior libero Christina Dailey said. “They were a really solid team.”
Cavaliers outside hitter Taylor Gibson had a number of kills to help LaSalle-Peru pull away in Game 2. She finished the game with nine.
“When she got to the front row, she was on fire,” Nore said. “We had no answer for her, there was no doubt about it. That’s a credit to not only great players, but great coaches and great focus and discipline.”
Dailey finished with 11 digs for the Spartans, while Shannon Maher added 10. Cassie Hunt led Sycamore with four kills, with Mattie Hayes adding three. Kendra Larson finished with 13 assists and Gabby Wenger had two aces for Sycamore.
There was a big change with the Spartans’ program following Debbie Klock’s retirement after last season, but Sycamore’s winning tradition continued in 2013 under Nore, with the Spartans winning their first regional title since 2010.
Sycamore loses only four seniors off this year’s squad, and Nore sees a lot of success ahead for his team.
“If this is any indication of the fight and heart the girls at Sycamore are going to give me, I see a really bright future. I see a lot of opportunities like this, big matches,” he said. “There’s going to come a day when the tides will turn. Don’t know when that will be, but it gives a lot of hope and a lot of enthusiasm to the school and to the community. It’s been a great first year.”