Hinsdale Central stuns No. 1 seeded South in sectional final
Riverside, 11/01/12--Hinsdale Central's Lauren Fuller bumps the ball. Riverside Brookfield High School hosted Hinsdale South High School and Hinsdale Central High School in a Class 4A sectional final girls volleyball match Thursday evening. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 6, 2012 4:50PM
RIVERSIDE — Hinsdale Central proved the regular season doesn’t matter when it comes to the playoffs.
The Red Devils did the improbable Thursday night with a stunning upset over top-seeded Hinsdale South to win the Class 4A Riverside-Brookfield sectional final, 15-25, 25-21, 25-18.
Not only did Central take its first sectional title since 1977, but the sixth-seeded Devils (14-25) have reinvented themselves after completing a less-than-mediocre regular season. Central moved to within one win of reaching the state tournament. It will have to slay perennial power Mother McAuley (34-4) at 5 p.m. Saturday in the McAuley supersectional to get there. McAuley beat Stagg 25-16, 25-19 Thursday night.
“It has worked to our advantage,” Meghan McDowell said. “We are the underdogs.”
The Devils were powered by 6-foot-4 Virginia-bound setter McDowell, who scored 14 points in the match on eight kills, three blocks and three aces. Taller Central outblocked South 12-2 and had three consecutive blocks to take a 24-16 lead in the final set. McDowell blocked Rachel Kent on back-to-back hitting attempts and Dominique Millette’s fourth block of the match pushed Central to match point.
The left-handed McDowell provided the clincher with a kill down the middle of the South defense off second contact from libero Rachael Lenderman’s pass.
To win the sectional, Central defeated the No. 3 seed (Young), No. 2 seed (St. Ignatius) and No. 1 seed (South).
“From our record, this would seem like a shock,” Central senior outside hitter Lucy Crofton said. “I’ve known these girls for years. I know what they are capable of. We have pulled it together when it matters.”
South (31-8) saw its 13-match winning streak going back to the Mizuno Cup Oct. 6 come to an end. Jessica Brezwyn (match-high 11 kills, 2 aces), a North Carolina-Greensboro recruit, only had two kills in the third set. Colleen Lyons had 10 kills and Rachel Kent added seven kills and South’s only two blocks.
South led 11-10 in the third set until Central went on an 8-1 run. Coming out of a timeout, the Hornets had a kill off setter Sharon Anderson’s tip, but then Central scored the next three points.
“We let them back in (the match),” Anderson said. “We couldn’t get around their block. They’re a big team. They did their job well. It was hard to get around them.”
The 6-2 Millette had two kills, 6-3 Lauren Fuller registered three kills and three blocks and 6-footers Crofton and Claire Cornell had one block each.
“What we have been saying to ourselves is, ‘Look, we go into every match expected to lose, but we’ll do anything we can to win,’ ” McDowell said.
Kent led South in the first set when she had two blocks and three kills to help give the Hornets a 15-7 lead.
Central’s last sectional title came in 1977 when the Devils finished third in the state. Central’s only other sectional title was in 1974.
Central lost all five matches to start the season at the Benet Invitational and dropped to 3-11 on the season after finishing 22nd at the Wheaton Classic Sept. 15. The Devils avenged a 25-19, 23-25, 25-15 loss to South Oct. 16 in Darien.