Beads of perspiration dotted Hannah Hsieh’s forehead. New Trier’s girls volleyball coach waved her right hand several times in front of her face during a post-match interview, hoping to cool down.
Another taut and lengthy volleyball clash, another NT victory.
“My team is falling in love with three-set matches,” Hsieh said after her top-seeded Trevians defeated Hersey’s second-seeded Huskies 21-25, 25-12, 25-17 in the Class 4A New Trier Sectional final on Nov. 1.
NT (33-5) needed three sets to defeat Glenbrook South in a regional semifinal and three more to down Niles West in a sectional semifinal.
“Great team, tough opponent; that team’s players go for everything,” Trevians junior middle Gillian Klise said of Hersey (30-9), after smacking a match-high 13 kills to go with three blocks in Winnetka.
“We were really on [after the first set]. Our mindset from that point on was, ‘Do what we know we can do. The sets [mostly from junior setter Payton Hielscher] were perfect, and our back row was amazing. Our goal is to get Downstate.”
NT, seemingly in control with leads of 19-14 and 20-17 in the first set, got hit with an 8-1, set-ending surge from Hersey. But NT raced to a 12-5 advantage in the second set, with an emphatic kill from junior hitter Maddie McGregor (7 kills) highlighting a 9-2 run.
The Trevians forced a third set with a 7-0 spurt to close out the middle set.
“Serving and passing,” NT junior outside hitter Taite Ryan (10 digs, 4 kills, 3 aces, 2 blocks) said of the keys to overcoming a one-set deficit against the perennially strong program from the Mid-Suburban League. “We had heart, too.”
In the third set, Klise’s 10th kill of the match upped NT’s lead to 16-10, and junior outside hitter/defensive specialist Grace Bozzo (3 kills) struck an ace before and after a Hersey timeout to increase the gap to 18-10.
Hersey never got closer than 18-15 from there.
“Realizing this could be our last match of the season [after dropping the first set] motivated us, got us going,” said senior libero Julia Maisel (11 digs). “We played harder in the second and third sets. We were told to go for it, to go for … everything.”
Hielscher, poised and productive as usual, finished with 26 assists, five kills, four aces and two blocks.
New Trier faces Crystal Lake Central in the Lake Zurich Supersectional on Nov. 3 (6 p.m.), with the winner advancing to the Class 4A Final Four next weekend at Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena in Normal. CLC edged Prairie Ridge 22-25, 25-22, 27-25 in the Wauconda Sectional final on Nov. 1.