Girls volleyball: IC Catholic avenges state title loss with win over G-K

Season ends for Cogs while Knights advance to face Timothy Catholic

IC Catholic Prep players celebrate their win over Genoa-Kingston in the Class 2A sectional semifinal match Monday, Oct. 30, 2023, at Genoa-Kingston High School.

GENOA – Once again, IC Catholic and Genoa-Kingston met in the postseason.

Last year it was for a state championship, with the Cogs winning the Class 2A title. On Monday, it was earlier in the postseason, with the teams battling in a Class 2A Genoa-Kingston Sectional semifinal.

This time, it was the Knights that won, eliminating the Cogs on their home floor, 25-14, 25-19.

“It feels so amazing. It’s like our revenge on them I guess,” said IC Catholic junior Emily Carling, who had 11 kills to provide a second attacking option for the Knights behind Ava Falduto. “But we still have so much further to go. I’m so excited.”

Falduto had a match-best 14 kills and nine digs to lead the Knights (33-3) and hand the Cogs (37-2) only their second loss of the season.

“It was early in the tournament, but we were excited for the challenge,” G-K coach Keith Foster said. “We want to play the best because we want to beat the best. It didn’t work out for us tonight, but we were excited for the challenge.”

The Knights never trailed in the first game. The Cogs hadn’t trailed by more than five and had got it down to 15-11, but the Knights rolled off five straight points. Two were on two-touch penalties by the Cogs. It never got closer than eight the rest of the way.

Genoa-Kingston led early in the second game, with an Alivia Keegan kill stretching the lead to 11-7 and forcing and IC Catholic timeout. But the Knights rallied and tied it on Falduto’s only ace of the night at 12. They added two more points and never trailed again.

IC Catholic coach Nancy Kerrigan said the team plays much better when there’s balance behind Falduto, who played on the FIVB Under-19 World Cup this summer representing Team USA in winning a gold medal. The senior outside hitter and libero has committed to Penn State. Kerrigan said Carling provided that balance Monday.

“She really stepped up, and that’s what we needed,” Kerrigan said. “We probably didn’t get our middles involved tonight like we would have liked to. But that wasn’t happening and Emily stepped up. That’s the beauty of having a more dynamic attack.”

Lucy Russ had 22 assists for the Knights and Jenny Fromelt had three blocks.

“I think I stepped up today, and our whole team contributed a lot to this win today,” Carling said. “We couldn’t have done it with just one person. It gives us more energy when everybody’s clicking. It makes our team, our team.”

For the Cogs, Alivia Keegan had nine kills, nine assists and two digs. Alayna Pierce added 11 kills, six digs and two aces. Hannah Langton had 10 digs.

And even though Foster said the team’s expectations were to get back to the final four, it doesn’t diminish what the Cogs accomplished this season.

“You can’t take the year away from them,” Foster said. “We had a tough schedule. On our schedule there were 10 regional champions... We won our conference, won a regional, won all four tournaments we went to. The group really does a great job of finding ways to win. Even when they’re up against it, they seem to find ways to win. It just wasn’t in the cards for them tonight.”

Keegan said she was proud of the way the team battled back.

“The first set was definitely hard for us, but I think we turned it around,” Keegan said. “I’m really proud of us for the way we fought. We had a really good season, didn’t go our way. But we still fought hard, and I got to play with my [best] friends ever, so it was a great time.

In the first semifinal, Timothy Christian knocked off Rockford Christian 25-23, 25-16. The Royal Lions led most of the first match, but the Trojans went on a run, tied it at 23 and went on to the win before cruising in Game 2. Abby Vanderwal led the Trojans with 10 kills and seven digs. Clare McQuade had five digs and Bella Potempa added eight kills.

Although the Knights and Trojans are 7 minutes apart in Elmhurst, they’ll each make the hour drive to Genoa for the 6 p.m. Wednesday rematch.

“Yeah we played each other, but we joked it really wasn’t playing each other,” Kerrigan said of her team’s 25-18, 25-7 win. ”We both get to drive from Elmhurst back to Genoa to play each other.”

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