After Lutheran St. Charles nipped Whitfield 25-23 in a hard-fought first game of a Class 2 district final at Principia on Thursday, it was all downhill sledding from there.
The Archdiocesan Athletic Association co-champion topped the Warriors 25-14 in Game 2 to claim its first district title in five years.
"It's definitely an overwhelming feeling to win district," Cougars coach Erin Diani-O'Day said. "The girls worked really hard. We had a tough schedule but we did that in preparation for district."
The win advances Lutheran to the sectional tournament, which it will host Saturday. The Cougars (23-7-2) will play defending state champion Hermann at 3 p.m. The winner of that match will play the winner of the Fatima-Maplewood match at 6 p.m. Saturday for a birth in the final four.
"They graduated quite a few players in the last few years," Diani-O'Day said of Hermann. "Hopefully, the talent of their team compares to what we've seen. We played a lot of Class 4 and Class 3 teams to gain control of our game."
Even with that, the Cougars were given quite a battle at least for one game in the final Thursday.
"It was a little nerve-wracking in the first game," Diani-O'Day said of Whitfield, which finished up with a record of 17-15. "We had never seen them all season long. It was a different game and we didn't know what to expect."
The Cougars got solid efforts from middle hitters Hannah Leppien (seven kills), Jamie Skerston (four kills) and setter Meagan Leppien (23 assists).
In Illinois regional games Thursday....
Mater Dei 2, Effingham 0 - The defending Class 3A champion got six kills from Kayla Eversgerd, Brooke Schulte and Emily Koelling en route to a 25-7, 25-8 win in a regional final at Charleston.
"The girls are really focused right now and playing the type of game I expect them to play," Mater Dei coach Chad Rakers said. "As long as we can keep that focus and keep our confidence then I think that's the place we need to be."
The Knights, No. 1 in the STLhighschoolsports.com small-schools rankings, improved to 33-3 with the win. They'll play Highland at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Mascoutah in the sectional round.
Edwardsville 2, Quincy 0 - The Tigers got nine kills from Hannah Frierdich and seven from Sam Epenesa as they claimed a 25-22, 26-24 win in a Class 4A regional final at Granite City.
For Edwardsville (31-5, No. 4 large schools), it was its 11th straight win.
The Tigers also got a solid effort from Lexi Gober who had 26 assists and nine digs.