Probably the best moment during another outstanding Lyons Township High School girls volleyball season was outlasting rival Marist in three sets Sept. 17.
The Lions nearly felt the elation again Oct. 31 on a much bigger stage.
LTHS started strong and took the first set, but the RedHawks rallied for a 21-25, 25-23, 25-12 victory in the Class 4A LTHS Sectional semifinals.
The Lions (30-8), the No. 3 sectional seed, also lost to No. 2 Marist (29-7) in last year’s sectional semifinals 26-24, 25-16.
This was another state-finals caliber classic.
“Ending here isn’t a true reflection of how good we are. It’s so early and we’re already done,” LTHS senior Grace Brennan said. “I know we didn’t beat them. Maybe down the road we’ll take those steps but this was 100 percent an improvement from last year.
Senior and Georgetown recruit Kamryn Lee-Caracci (12 kills, 3 blocks), Brennan (7 kills, 7 digs, 11 service points), juniors Abby Markworth (26 assists), Kiley Mahoney (16 digs) and Maggie Kachmarik (7 digs), sophomore Grace Turner (5 kills, 4 blocks) and senior Katie Debs (2 kills) fueled the Lions’ effort.
LTHS controlled the first set after zipping to leads of 6-0 behind Brennan’s serving and 9-1. The Lions led the second set 14-13, but Marist pulled ahead 18-14 and fought off the Lions tying the set at 19 and 20.
In the third set, the Lions gained a 6-2 advantage before Marist called a timeout and regrouped. The RedHawks went in front 9-8 and never again trailed. After LTHS closed to 12-11 on a Lee-Caracci kill, Marist scored the next 10 points.
“Just unfortunate that we got kicked out again against Marist, but that’s what happens when you’re in the toughest sectional in the state,” LTHS coach Jill Bober said. “I’m so proud of the way that they played. They showed that they deserved to be on the court with Marist, with any competitive team in the state.”
The Lions’ regular-season victory over Marist came in the Wheaton Classic semifinals before losing to Benet for the championship.
LTHS boys soccer
The Lions (15-6-3) were hoping for another comeback Oct. 25 but lost to rival Hinsdale Central 2-0 in the IHSA Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional semifinals.
LTHS, the sectional’s top seed, won the regular-season meeting 5-2 on Sept. 20 after the No. 4-seed Red Devils (17-4-1) scored first.
The Lions were top-ranked early this season but have gone the latter half without injured senior defender Collin Sullivan, one of their best players. They also were minus junior defender Danny Svelnis for the sectional.
“[Our season] kind of fell off a little bit, but it doesn’t take anything away from how many great games they played all season long and just how hard they worked,” LTHS coach Paul Labbato said. “Injuries all even out a little bit, but it’s hard to replace defenders at this stage of the game.”
The Red Devils scored with 23:46 left in the first half and continued the pressure, finishing with 12 shots and leading 6-4 in corner kicks.
After pressuring the box early, the Lions were limited to two shots on goal and four shots total. They made a late surge in hopes of tying before the Red Devils struck again with 6:35 to go.
“Their keeper (Martin Contreras) made two gigantic saves in the first 15, 20 minutes. That kind of set the tone and then we didn’t really generate any offense,” Labbato said.