A three-game thriller at Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena ended with the Lyons Township girls volleyball team hoisting the Class 4A State Championship trophy.

Led by Jocelynn Birks’ 18 kills, the Lions held on to edge Cary-Grove 25-23, 19-25, 25-23 to win the school’s third state title in the sport.

Cary-Grove, last year’s state champ, went into the contest with an unblemished record of 41 straight victories.

Lyons also received contributions from Alexis Viliunas, who added seven kills and 14 assists, and Laura Williams, who finished with six kills. Megan Miller snagged 64 digs for the Lions, who finished the season with a 41-1 overall record.

Lyons went up 23-20 in the third game before the Trojans cut the deficit to 23-22 on a block. A kill by the Illinois-bound Birks and a miss-hit on match-point gave Lyons the victory.

Lyons also had to battle West Suburban (Silver) Conference foe York to a three-gamer in the semifinal. The Lions came away with a 25-16, 16-25, 25-12 victory in that match.

“After the second game I told the girls that we had a fresh start, a fresh 25 points,” Lyons head coach Joann Pyritz said after the match. “I had confidence in them and they had confidence in me. I was glad me got off to a strong start in that last match.”

-Brad Spencer