BOURBON | After enduring a bumpy regular season, the odds of Marquette Catholic winning a 14th straight sectional championship were long at best. It was only fitting, however, that the new queens of the court had to go through the Blazers on the way.
South Central opened play Saturday with a decisive three-set rout of six-time defending state champion Marquette Catholic, then dispatched of Westville with similar ease in the evening, 25-14, 25-13, 25-11, to claim the Class A sectional crown at Triton High School.
The title was the first for the Satellites in 19 years.
Despite sailing so smoothly through the final match, South Central head coach Ashley Rinker was somewhat disappointed with her team's relatively lukewarm effort early against Westville.
"I thought they'd come out a little more excited ," Rinker said. "No team's going to roll over and die, and once they realized that, we were fine."
Per usual, the Satellites (28-2) were led by their two standout senior outside hitters, Aimee Hanna and Stephanie Balon. Hanna collected a match-high 20 kills to go along with 10 digs, while Balon added 12 kills, 15 digs, three blocks and five big service aces.
"I missed my first two," Balon said of her serve, "so I had to make up for that."
Westville stayed within striking distance early in the first game, getting as close as 12-10 before three straight kills by Hanna fueled a 6-0 surge that helped restore order for South Central. The Satellites pulled away, leading by as many as 11 points before closing with Balon's fifth kill of the frame.
It was a strong finish to a match that featured its share of Satellite sputtering at the outset - apparently the product of a hangover from the team's morning victory.
"The first game [against Marquette] was a lot more exciting," Balon conceded. "The crowd was really into it, and it was a bigger deal. The [Westville match] was a lot more flat. ... Our whole mood wasn't as high and excited.
"We were really lucky they didn't come out stronger."
Senior Rachel Pfledderer finished with seven kills and 19 assists in a losing effort for the Blackhawks.
The 25-13, 25-19, 25-21 sweep of Marquette came as the Blazers (12-23) held brief one-point leads early in the first and second frames, but it could not present any sort of a consistent threat, particularly when senior outside hitter Katie Clancy (19 kills, 19 digs) was in the back row.
"They forced us into worse ball control than we forced them into," Marquette coach Troy Campbell stated.
Westville reached the finals with a 25-16, 25-10, 25-19 sweep of Argos as senior outside hitter Caitlyn Fennell led a balanced effort with seven kills and six aces as the Blackhawks earned their spot in the title match by cruising past an error-prone Argos squad in three games.