NORMAL – McAuley’s mother needed a couple of things to finish her sixteenth state championship.
Things like power punch, defense, positioning – and it actually didn’t hurt a little bit of a positive attitude.
Before the third game on Saturday night against Benet, the senior libero Gigi Navarrete stood to the side and stared at her teammates. Together with her hands on her hips, she smiled and shook slightly.
Then she threw herself on the court to present each of her teammates a high five “Let’s go”.
“We actually needed to be light,” said Navarrete. “It is a game and we’re here to have a good time. We needed to remind ourselves to have a good time and keep working on it. “
The Mighty Macs had an incredible time beating Benet 25-22, 17-25, 25-14 for the Illinois Class 4A title on the Redbird Arena.
There have been loads of heroes.
Navarrete, the Northwest Commitment, conducted 20 excavations for McAuley (39-3). Michigan recruit Ellie White stood primarily with 20 homicides and nine excavations, while Ellery Rees was huge with nine homicides. Mary Kate Sheehan added five kills and Olivia Klapp had 20 assists.
Gabija Staniskis led Benet (37-5) with 11 kills. Audrey Asleson had 27 assists and Aniya Warren 22 kicks.
Together, Macs were powerful.
“Our chemistry definitely helped us get through this,” said White. “We would not achieve success without it. Everyone contributed, which was huge for us.
“It’s a tremendous feeling.”
It was almost as amazing a journey as Friday’s win within the semi-final 25-27, 25-17, 25-20 over St. Charles East.
On this case, McAuley built a 9-1 lead in the primary leg before losing it.
In that match, McAuley conceded 7-1 in the primary leg before coming back to win him.
“We have dug ourselves out of a hole like this before,” said White. “I just knew we could do it. We just needed to tackle one point at a time, be tough, have fortitude. “
White probably needed it probably the most. The younger, 5ft 11in, was blocked several times by the front row which featured the 6-4 duo Annie Eschenbach and Lynney Tarnow.
“They were huge,” said White. “They’d an enormous block so I needed to hit high, hit around them and shoot. My teammates, my libero, my DS, Sam (Falk) and Gigi (Navarrete), I would not have been in a position to do without them. “
White finally found his beat and brought McAuley back. Benet was leading 20-19 when Tess Hayes found her groove on the service line.
The senior quarterback served three aces to take Mighty Macs ahead and win.
“It was crazy,” said Hayes. “I feel like we had probably the most energy after we got here back. Once we picked it up, we found ourselves and commenced playing like us. “
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Rees, a 6-3 junior, successfully neutralized the massive boppers on the opposite side of the online. Her kill tied within the opening game in 17-17. She had yet another pair to complete the match.
And there was far more in between.
“Sometimes it didn’t go my way at first and I made mistakes, which is normal,” Rees said. “But I listened to my coaches. They made me do various things. Once I made them, it worked. I used to be still doing it and my flow just began coming.
“It’s an unreal feeling. It’s something I’ve dreamed of all my life. I’m incredibly happy with my team and the way we did it.
Meanwhile, Navarrete blocked off the defense, rebounding from an occasional hesitant attack on Friday, beating Benet in exquisite style.
Her shimmy was also division I.
“That is what it does best,” said McAuley’s coach Jen DeJarld. “Her energy is contagious. It exudes positivity. She kept everyone free when we would have liked it most.