CHAMPAIGN — Sirena Woo’s teammates were so good in the first set of Monday’s Class 3A volleyball regional match that she never stepped to the service line. The set ended before she had her turn to serve.
The Mahomet-Seymour senior took advantage of her opportunity in the second set. Woo landed three aces in a row, the first of which broke an 8-8 tie and lifted the Bulldogs into the lead for good.
M-S advanced into a semifinal match tonight against Champaign Central on the Maroonas’ home court by virtue of a 25-14, 25-15 conquest of Rantoul in the opening round.
Woo herself was one reason she never got to serve in the first set. She had a match-high 16 digs, many of which she directed to Mason Moore (11 assists), who had four hitters put down kills.
“Sirena was huge defensively,” M-S coach Ron Hoppe said. “She reads the ball so well. It seems like she’s always there to make the play.”
After Kaitlyn Murphy’s kill broke the final tie (6-6) of the opening set, the Bulldogs (21-11) continued a spree that found them scoring 22 of 25 points while erasing a 4-0 Rantoul lead.
Woo and teammates remained calm as the Eagles took command early.
“We reminded ourselves to stay focused, give it our all and play our best for each other,” she said.
M-S had beaten Rantoul twice in Corn Belt Conference matches.
“There’s no pressure on the team that has lost the two other times,” Hoppe said, “and a lot of pressure on the team that has won.”
The presence of 6-foot-2 junior Cortney Bohn (six kills, four blocks) and consistent serving (eight aces, two errors by the team) enabled the Bulldogs to pull away.
“We blocked pretty well and everyone served well,” Hoppe said.
M-S advances into tonight’s second semifinal against the Maroons.
“When we’re good, we’re good, and if we can figure out a way to be good, we can give Central a fight,” Hoppe said.
Rantoul’s Carson Church had a match-high seven kills. Church and Hannah Cargo had the Eagles’ aces.
“Our passing hurt us,” said Rantoul coach Traci Riddle, whose team retains six juniors. “In the second game, we played better and had more ball-control.”
Urbana ousts Clinton
Balance was the key as the Tigers swept Clinton 25-11, 28-26. Six Tigers had kills and three had service aces.
“We had a heart-to-heart (last Tuesday) where we let each other know what they had to do,” Urbana coach Jackie Douglas said. “It’s about 13 (players), not one.”
The Tigers (15-17) broke open the first set with a 13-point spree while left-hander Michelle Driscoll was at the service line.
In the second set, the Tigers’ third attempt to clinch the match produced the winning point.
Taylor Lovett had 11 assists, Haley Hammond seven digs and Brenna Swartz five blocks for Douglas’ team.
Kiara Moses had seven kills, Anna Billman had six and Sophie Davenport had six.
Urbana returns to Combes Gym tonight to play top-seeded Centennial.
“We look forward to that,” Douglas said. “We’re 1-0 as far as we’re concerned.”
Clinton’s Taylor Filkin had seven kills and Haley Ginger had five kills. Miranda Ennis had 13 digs and Mally Hickman finished with eight assists for the Maroons (14-21).