NORMAL, Ill. • Mater Dei was supposed to play in the finals of the Class 3A state volleyball tournament Saturday at Redbird Arena.
Instead, the Knights put on a virtual record-setting clinic in destroying Woodstock Marian 25-9, 25-13 in 37 minutes to win their second straight championship and seventh overall. Mater Dei was playing in its four straight state appearance and third in a row in the finals.
Mater Dei, No. 1 among STLhighschoolsports small schools and No. 81 in the prepvolleyball.com national rankings, finished 39-3. Abbey Winter finished with a match-high 10 kills, Brooke Schulte added seven, Kayla Eversgerd six, Emily Koelling four and Sam Bedard three. Bedard handed out 21 assists.
Marian Central, which scored the fewest points by any team in the four classes in a championship match since rally scoring was introduced in 2003, wound up 35-7 as Emma Hussey and Meredith Patterson ended with three kills each.
It was the first back-to-back state titles for Mater Dei since it captured three in a row from 1993-95 under former coach Fred Rakers, who serves as an assistant to his son Chad.
"Our team just clicked," said Schulte, a DePaul basketball recruit. "The passing was perfect, the setting was amazing. The hitters put away the balls. The middles went up with every single set (by Marian). There's not one thing that I could say to somebody that they did one thing wrong."
First-year coach Chad Rakers thought his team's defense was one of the reasons the match ended so quickly.
"That's kind of been the heart of this group all year long" he said. "They're the hardest-working girls I've ever had the chance to work with."
The Knights never trailed in the match, and the Hurricanes evened the score one time -- in the second game at 1-1.
In Game 1, Mater Dei reeled off the first nine points as Winter had three kills and Schulte contributed two and a block. That lead also helped settle whatever nerves the Knights might have had.
"It put us in a comfort zone," libero Alyssa Hitpass said. "We had room to work. It was just a lot easier on us. It was less stressful."
Marian, which finished third last season, never threatened, although it trimmed the deficit to 15-8 after an unforced error from Mater Dei, which had four in the game and eight for the match.
"We just trust each other so well that we know who is going to go for the ball and who's going to get it," said Winter, who is headed to Southern Indiana. "We just know who is going to get the ball."
In the second game, Marian tied it at 1 after a kill by Patterson and was down 5-4 after kill by Hussey. But the Knights tallied 14 of the next 19 points for a 19-9 lead that left the final result beyond question.
"It just wasn't our day," Marian coach Laura Watling said between tears. "We went into it with a good mentality, and they wanted it. But we just didn't have it today. And it was unfortunate. I just wished we would have been able to fight a little bit more."