ELGIN | The Lady Pioneers of St. Francis de Sales swear they're working on teamwork, on communication, on supporting each other.
But, when it comes down to it …
"We're all kind of ball hogs," Jensen Hunt said. "We want to get the ball and attack."
It turns out Hunt, an outside hitter, wasn't necessarily referring to sets.
An aggressive de Sales essentially served itself into the Class 1A Harvest Christian Academy Sectional title game with a 25-21, 25-12 win over North Shore Country Day Tuesday night.
The Pioneers (15-5) had 16 aces among their 34 service points, sophomore defensive specialist Bianca Garcia closing out the match with a 10-point run that included four aces.
In the opener, Hunt had four aces among her five-point serving, to go with two kills.
"Must of us go for power," Hunt said of the team's serving philosophy. "We all want to get that ace."
With the win, de Sales advances to the 7 p.m. Thursday title game opposite the host Lions (28-11), 25-17, 25-9 winners over Newark.
They'll have to be better than they were Tuesday.
"This was not our best," Garcia said. "We have to stop making sloppy mistakes and start making cleaner passes."
The Pioneers didn't muster a lot of offense, managing only 15 kills on the nights -- four each for team leaders Stephanie Galan and Jailin Burchette. But then, they didn't need it, the way they were serving.
In the opening set, Galan had three consecutive aces to stake de Sales to a 4-2 lead, and they never trailed again. Hunt also had a string of three straight aces, and finished the set with her fourth.
Hunt was again serving when de Sales overcame a sluggish start in Set 2. After falling being 5-0, the Pioneers trailed 10-8 when Hunt ran off four points, including an ace, to give them the lead.
It was all a prelude to Garcia's closing run, which didn't impress her as much as it did the de Sales fans who made the 90-minute drive from the East Side.
"I've been playing since I was in the fourth grade," she said. "It happens."
De Sales winning a sectional title, however, hasn't happened -- yet. The Pioneers have won only one other regional, in 1993.
Have they reached their ceiling? Hunt doesn't think so.
"We're working on all trying to play together," she said. "We're getting better."