WHEATFIELD | Knox knew exactly how to defend its Class 3A Kankakee Valley Sectional on Saturday.
Once the Redskins (31-4) got within four or five points of a set victory in the championship, they turned up the intensity level.
Knox turned back a spirited Andrean squad 25-17, 25-22 and 25-22 to take the title to advance to Tuesday's regional against Gavit.
"We played really well up until like 17-17 in all three of those games," Andrean coach Naveed Nizam said. "In the first game we lost a little momentum there, and they took over. The second one, we were right there all the way through, and the third game the same thing."
Knox led 20-17 in the first set and scored the final five points. The second set was tied at 21 before Knox scored four of the last five points. In the clincher, the Redskins scored three of the last four points.
"Once we saw that end of the prize, we turned it on," Knox coach Jake Skelly said. "I have to say a lot about Andrean. They have improved a ton from last year. They gave us about all we could handle. I'm just extremely proud of our seniors and the entire team."
Nazim was proud of how his charges competed all day and knew that with a few breaks it could've been a different outcome.
"We were battling back and forth -- good blocking and great hitting," he said.
Andrean (21-13) loses six seniors to graduation, including outside hitter Erin Boyle. She's proud of how the team got to the sectional championship match.
"We've just been here for each other through it all," Boyle said. "We did have a hard match tonight, but we came out strong. Next year, I know they'll do great."
In the first semifinal match, Knox recovered from a 27-25 loss in Game 2 to eliminate Kankakee Valley (14-21) in four sets, 25-10, 25-27, 25-8, 25-15. It was the first time Knox lost a set in five sectional matches in the past two seasons. Hailey Ruesken led the Kougars with five kills, 2 1/2 blocks and an ace.
Andrean (21-12) trailed in Game 2 of the second semifinal until the very end and pulled off a 25-23 win and went on to take the match 25-21, 25-23 and 25-12 over Calumet. The Warriors finished the season 10-11.
"They really worked hard," Calumet coach Brianne Cercone said. "I feel like they really gave a lot of effort."