NEW LENOX | Illiana Christian's Sydnee VanBeek has no doubts that her team played with everything it had, but the Vikings' best came up just a bit short Thursday night.
The Vikings fell 25-23, 20-25, and 22-25, to the host Warriors at the 3A Lincoln-Way West Regional championship. Illiana Christian battled back from being down six points to take the first set, but the Vikings were unable to come up with big points when they needed them in the final two. VanBeek used her serve throughout the match to keep the Vikings at least close, and sometimes ahead, in each game.
"We gave it all we got and we didn't stop," VanBeek said. "We had to compete back and forth. If you talked to any of these girls out here, they would say they played their heart out."
VanBeek finished the match with eight aces, including an ace on the final point of the first set to put Illiana Christian up one game to none. The Vikings led 19-17 in the second set, but after a Lincoln-Way West timeout, the Warriors ran off six straight points to take a 23-19 lead.
Illiana Christian used its own timeouts throughout the match to control the tempo of each game and the overall energy of the home crowd and turned deficits into leads with two separate timeouts in each of the first two sets.
"We're a small school," Illiana Christian coach Nikki Van Dyke said. "To hang with a school like Lincoln-Way West, it's a win in my book. Do I think that we played hard and deserved it? Yeah, of course."
The Vikings (22-15) were able to battle the Warriors the entire third set but could not consistently hold serve. Two unforced service errors cost the Vikings, but despite the mental mistakes, Illiana Christian led, 21-16, before the Warriors scored nine points to the Vikings' final point.
With the set tied at 22, Van Dyke called an Illiana Christian timeout, but the third timeout was not the charm, and the Warriors ended the match with three straight points.
"We worked so hard for where we are," VanBeek said. "It was a tough loss, but we played our hearts out. I'm looking forward for next year."