GRAYSLAKE – Prairie Ridge’s season-ending loss to Crystal Lake Central in a sectional final last November stuck with many of the Wolves returners as they prepared for a rematch against the Tigers.
“I can replay that last point in my mind, any time I want,” Prairie Ridge senior outside hitter Olivia Annen said. “We were all so excited to come out and play and get revenge for last year.”
Annen and the Wolves won’t have to dwell on last year's loss any longer.
Prairie Ridge made quick work of the Tigers on Wednesday, sweeping its crosstown rivals, 25-13, 25-19, in the Class 4A Grayslake Sectional final to claim its first sectional title since 2012.
Prairie Ridge (28-10) moves on to play Loyola Academy (31-8) at 7 p.m. Friday in a Gurnee Warren Supersectional. With a victory, the Wolves would head to state for the first time since making back-to-back appearances in 2004 and 2005.
Unlike in the teams' first two meetings this season, the Wolves needed only two sets to upend Central (31-8). Prairie Ridge jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the opening set and never trailed against the Tigers.
“It was really nice to beat them three times, like they did to us (last season),” senior middle blocker Maddie McGuire said. “We’re super excited for supersectionals. It means a lot, because we’ve been working hard this whole season, just really playing well together and having a ton of fun.”
Prairie Ridge senior middle blocker Sammi Lockwood, a Notre Dame commit, led the Wolves offensively with nine kills. The 6-foot-3 Lockwood recorded six of her nine kills in the opening set.
Four-year varsity setter Jayden Otto finished with 24 assists and five digs for Prairie Ridge. Annen had nine kills, three aces and eight digs, and McGuire had six kills and a pair of blocks.
"We ran a really fast offense, and we really talked about what was open after watching film," Lockwood said. "We kind of analyzed what they did and how to work around it. I think we did a really good job of that."
"It was a whole different ball game than in the regular season," Central coach Lisa Brunstrum said. "They have a lot of experience, and they really came to play. Their hitters were aggressive. They started from point one and didn't really look back."
Olivia Jost led the Wolves on defense with nine digs, and Hannah Baudin had four kills and two aces. Trinity Sheridan, a UNLV commit, smashed five kills in a team effort for the Wolves.
"The girls have been very focused and determined," Wolves coach Stefanie Otto said. "They were leaning on each other and communicating really well. They had a lot of passion out there."
Central was led by junior outside hitter Madde Blake with nine kills. Maddy McCormick had seven kills and seven digs, Camryn Hausler had three kills, and Karina Simatos tallied 10 digs.
Grace Levin had a team-high nine assists and Madeline Timmerman led the way with four blocks.
"For the girls that played last year, it means a lot to get back here," Brunstrum said. "They're going to be hungry again next season."
STAR OF THE MATCH
Olivia Annen, Prairie Ridge, sr., OH
The 6-foot-1 senior provided nine kills, eight digs and three aces in a 25-13, 25-19 win over Crystal Lake Central.
28: Wins for Prairie Ridge, its most since 2012 (30).
AND ANOTHER THING …
The Wolves will face Loyola Academy at 7 p.m. Friday in the Class 4A Gurnee Warren Supersectional.