RAYMOND, ILL. — Kayla Huels crumpled to the ground in agony. She got up and tried to limp off the court.
The Gibault senior setter did not want to finish her career watching from the bench.
But the injury was simply too severe.
"I told her she couldn't (stay on the court)," Gibault coach Kelsey Hartung said. "She literally couldn't walk. Being her senior year, I knew she didn't want to leave that court."
Huels' twisted ankle, which came midway through the third set, was essentially a deathblow to the Hawks as Gibault fell to Greenfield-Northwestern 19-25, 25-20, 25-19 in the Class 1A Raymond-Lincolnwood Sectional final on Wednesday at Lincolnwood High School.
"That was pretty detrimental," Hartung said. "Do I think it would have been a different game had Kayla stayed in the game? I do. But both teams fought hard and did a great job."
Greenfield-Northwestern (29-5-2) will play Athens (30-5) in the Class 1A New Berlin Super-Sectional at 6 p.m. Friday at New Berlin High.
The Tigers claimed their first sectional title since 2007.
"They played for each other," Greenfield-Northwestern coach Tyann Hallock said. "They played with a lot of heart and guts. That's what helped us tonight. It felt good to be on the sideline and these girls did a great thing this year for this program."
Greenfield-Northwestern used a 5-0 run to take an 11-6 lead in the decisive third set before Huels went down.
"We have not had good luck this season with ankles," Hartung said. "We've had nine total sprained ankles this season. It was hard because she wanted to come back on, but I knew at that point, I had to let them play it out."
Huels had 13 assists and four kills at the time of the injury.
"Even with them not knowing what they're doing on the court, who's setting or who's hitting, they fought," Hartung said.
Shifting one of their main outside hitters, freshman Abby Grohmann, to setter, Gibault mounted a little comeback cutting the deficit to 17-13.
But that was as close as Gibault (27-11) would get.
Senior Ally Thompson collected five kills and posted three blocks for the Hawks, who lost in the sectional final for the second year in a row. Grohmann picked up six kills and two assists.
The Greenfield-Northwestern defense gave up only 10 kills over the final two sets after surrendering 13 in the opener.
"Once they started putting their blocks up, our hitters weren't hitting around them and you can't hit into a block and win games that way," Hartung said.
After falling in the first set, Hallock brought her team back into the locker room to talk in a quieter setting and get the group reorganized.
"I took them in there and said, 'It doesn't matter what happens, you've got to keep fighting,' " Hallock said. "We've got to find our groove on this 30-by-30 side of the floor and we've got to swing. We've got to get touches."
Junior Kaitlyn Foiles led the Tigers with 18 assists. Junior Kersty Gibbs paced the attack with eight kills.