LANSING | Timothy Christian girls volleyball coach Scott Piersma was the setter on Illiana Christian's boys team, circa 2004.
Illiana coach Nikki Van Dyke, another member of the Class of '04, was the setter on the girls team.
"We're friends," Piersma said Monday in Lansing. "We play in tournaments together in the summer. But whenever I come here, there's always that little bit extra — we're rivals."
Piersma's Trojans all but sewed up the Metro Suburban Conference title with a 25-18, 25-20 win over Illiana, which entered the evening one game behind the Trojans in the standings.
Paced by Kacie Stoll's 14 kills and sparkling .333 hitting percentage, Timothy (20-6, 8-0) beat Illiana (17-13, 8-2) for the third time this season. The first was an easy win in Elmhurst in late September. Then came a three-set duel in Manteno's tournament.
"We played them much better than we played (at Timothy)," Van Dyke said. "There, we shut down. Here, we were down eight points (in Set 2) and fought back.
"Did we play as well as we did at Manteno? No. But we were coming off a tough weekend."
Illiana finished second at Tinley Park's Titan Invitational, falling to Lincoln-Way North in the title match.
The Vikings' senior setter, Hannah Wegner, cited the weekend as a possible contributing factor to Illiana's sloppy play Monday.
"We'd make one mistake and not learn from it," she said. "Then we'd make another."
Still, she said, it wasn't like the trip to Elmhurst.
"After that game, we talked at our next practice," she said. "From then on, we've maintained our focus."
Ultimately, Timothy was just the more consistent of the two squads.
Illiana led 10-9 in the opening set, and was serving to tie at 19-18. But the Vikings' fourth missed serve of the set was the first of six straight Trojans points to close it out — the final four coming on either hitting errors or net violations by Illiana.
"It's tough to beat anybody three times," Piersma said. "But our girls did a good job of weathering their first burst."
Illiana fell behind quickly in the second set, trailing 8-3 before serving twice. It was 18-8 when Sydnee VanBeek strung together three kills and, with Mikinsey Pruim, an ace block to start a run that got the Vikings within 22-19, but they'd get no closer.
VanBeek led Illiana with six kills. Jamie Petrarca had eight blocks, and Wegner added 12 assists.
Juliana Stremler had 14 service points and five kills for Timothy, which also got five service points and three kills from Bri Cronenwett.