MANLIUS, Ill. – They knew it was a magical run, but that didn't make its end any easier to take.
There were tears aplenty Saturday night when Fieldcrest High School of Minonk ended Fulton's four-game winning streak and advanced to the Class 2A volleyball state semifinals with a 25-23, 25-18 victory at the Bureau Valley Super-Sectional.
“It's awesome that we came this far – we didn't think we would – but it's sad to end,” senior Rachael Beiermann said.
The Steamers held several leads in the first game, but when they lost that one, coach Stacy Germann was concerned.
“They were ready, and I truly feel if they had won that first game, the wind was taken out of their sails a little bit after that first lost,” she said. “Nobody had done that.”
Fulton (15-18-3) started the match strong, with sophomore Betsy Leonard scoring the Steamers' first three points on a combined block with Jamie Huennekens and two kills. She then served four points in a row, starting and ending the run with aces, that put the Steamers in front 7-3.
“Like always, we wanted to come out with a lead because the lead gives you an advantage,” she said.
Fieldcrest (33-4-1) took a page out of Fulton's “How to Win in the Postseason” book in the first set.
Trailing 8-4, the Knights took over at the service line to keep the Steamers within reach.
After recording a kill to make it 8-5, senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Petersen continued the four-point run with an ace serve and added a back-row kill to tie the score moments later.
“We were down a couple, so it was really important to me,” Petersen said. “I knew I had to get them over the net, so I stayed focused that we could catch back up since we were down.”