NORMAL | Every dream has its shelf life.
Marian Catholic's girls volleyball team had its impressive postseason run close out Saturday with a 25-20, 25-11 loss to Wheaton St. Francis in the Class 3A third-place match at Illinois State University's Redbird Arena.
The fourth-place finish was the best in school history and came under first-year coach Ryan Summers, who molded his young squad with no senior starters and took them to Marian's second appearance in a state volleyball tournament. The trip to state was one of the team's goals before the season started.
"I'm so incredibly proud of the girls and the way they played and how far they've come," Summers said. "They set out to do that, and they accomplished that goal."
St. Francis (35-7) had too many weapons Saturday. St. Francis broke open the first game with a pair of five-point runs, then closed out the stanza with a block for point by Daiva Wise and Carly Warner.
Marian (24-18) fell behind early in the second game, as St. Francis won 11 of the first 13 points, then punctuated its dominance with an eight-point run that included three consecutive service aces by Grace Churney to close out the match.
"It's a shame that we couldn't give our best game today, but that is a part of sports," Summers said. "Just by the law of averages, half the time you are above your potential, and half the time you are below it. It wasn't because we didn't fight hard or try."
Marian was led by sophomore Amber Clay, who had seven kills and two service aces. Junior Jasmine King added five kills from her middle post, and freshman Kelsey Clark added four kills.
"I'm really excited for next year, because I didn't think our team really would come together as it did this season," Clay said. "I guess we proved ourselves wrong."
St. Francis was led by outside hitter Haley Gable, who had seven kills. Churney and Wise each added five kills. St. Francis had eight service aces Saturday, led by four from Churney. St. Francis lost Friday to eventual state champion, Mater Dei, which defeated Marian Central in two games.
"Losing yesterday was a disappointment, but being a senior, we wanted a win with our last game of the season," Churney said.