Fornoff, JCA overcome Champaign Central

FAIRBURY – Two years ago, then-sophomore Keegan Fornoff was called on to serve in a key situation during Joliet Catholic’s sectional championship match against Wheaton St. Francis, and she committed an error.

The Angels wound up losing a gut-wrencher. Fornoff has lived with that memory since. On Tuesday night, she made amends.

Fornoff came off the bench and served four straight points to complete a 5-0 run as the Angels erased a 20-18 deficit to beat Champaign Central, 25-22, in the second and final match of the Class 3A Prairie Central Sectional.

JCA (22-16), which won the first game, 25-20, advances to Thursday’s sectional final against Bloomington Central, which needed three games to oust Manteno.

“I’ve been waiting two years for this,” Fornoff said. “Two years ago, I went in for Morgan Reardon. I think it was the same score, and I blew it. I’m happy now.”

“I went to Keegan and told her that I was confident she could do it,” Angels coach Christine Scheibe said. “She has done a little of everything for us. I can use her as a setter, a hitter or a server. She is versatile enough that she can play various roles.”

This marks the ninth visit to a sectional final in 10 years for JCA, which was ousted in the sectional semifinal last year. The Angels have three state titles and six state trophies under Scheibe.

After Champaign Central crawled back within 23-22 in the second game, 5-foot-9 senior outside hitter Madline Grimm put the match away with consecutive kills, giving her eight for the night.

“I needed a comeback game after not playing well against Providence [in the Providence Regional final],” Grimm said. “I got really good sets at the end; I wanted to crush one so bad, but the coaches told me at the last timeout just to swing smart.”

Grimm also had three blocks against the taller Maroons. Mary Murphy chipped in six kills and eight assists. Nicole Witmer and Maddie Naal both had two blocks; and Witmer had a couple late kills, one on a little bump shot, that were huge.

Meghan Harrison contributed seven digs and Mallory Krzysciak six, while Megan Melone had 10 assists as the Angels played the team game that is needed to advance at this juncture.

“We weren’t in a sectional final last year, and we have a lot of girls on this team who were on that team,” Scheibe said. “We talked about how we want to get further than last year. Our goal was to not settle for getting here to the sectional.”

JCA started strong in the first game but fell behind, 8-5, as Champaign Central went on a 6-0 run.

The Angels rallied to lead, 13-10, behind Murphy and never trailed again.

When the Maroons threatened to get back in, Grimm stepped to the forefront, knocking down kills with abandon to help put it away

JCA led much of Game 2 and was on top, 17-12, when Champaign Central came roaring back. The Maroons went on an 8-1 run to lead, 20-18. But Witmer’s kill reversed the momentum, and that’s when Fornoff subbed in and delivered big time.

“We’ve had some good comebacks,” Murphy said. “We try to never pay attention to the score – to keep the same mentality – and that’s what we did tonight.

“We never give up – that’s the key.”

Scheibe said the Angels “were able to get the Maroons out of their system late in the second game. We played pretty well defensively at the end.

“We served aggressively, too. We had eight aces in all, which really helped.”