NORMAL - The Wheaton St. Francis volleyball team gave the final two-class state tournament a landmark sendoff Saturday night at Redbird Arena, becoming the first school to win titles in both classes.
The Spartans, who had won a record seven Class A titles, captured the 30th annual Class AA crown with a 25-18, 25-18 triumph over Rockton Hononegah.
St. Francis, a school of 752 students, joined the AA ranks a year ago when a new IHSA enrollment multiplier was applied to schools without geographic boundaries.
St. Francis finished 41-2 to set a school record for victories in a season, breaking the mark of 40 set in 1991 and tied in 2003.
Hononegah, which had never placed before, finished 36-3.
The third-place match went to Joliet Catholic over Barrington, 17-25, 25-12, 25-18. Joliet Catholic (37-6), fourth last year, picked up its fifth state trophy and Barrington (33-10) its sixth.
St. Francis punched its ticket for the final with a 25-14, 25-17 romp past No. 72 nationally ranked Joliet Catholic in the semifinals. The other semi saw No. 63 Hononegah hold off Barrington, 25-19, 25-22.
Megan Boken led St. Francis with nine kills. Ball State recruit Alyssa Rio added three. Setter Michelle Kocher handed out 17 assists to help her squad outhit the Lady Indians, .212 to negative .017.
Illinois State recruit Katie Culbertson had four kills while 6-foot-5 Wisconsin recruit Elle Ohlander had eight kills on .130 hitting. Whitney Schott provided 16 assists.
The Spartans broke away from a 6-6 tie in game one and never looked back.
In game two, St. Francis punctuated its dominance over the tournament by taking an 8-1 lead. Back-to-back aces by Rio later made it 17-11.
Hononegah made a mini-run to get within 23-18, but a Meghan Matusiak kill and a Lady Indian hitting error ended the match.
In the third-place match, Joliet Catholic's 7-0 start in the second game erased all the momemtum Barrington had fought for the first game. The Fillies clawed to a 13-13 tie in the third game, but a 7-1 run sent Joliet Catholic on its way to victory.
"The momentum kind of shifted from there," said Angels coach Christine Scheibe of the 7-0 run with Christie Seddon serving to start game two. "I felt we were pretty much in control of the match after that."
Joliet Catholic's Kelly Murphy, a springy 6-2 junior being recruited by the top college programs in the nation, pounded down 16 kills on .560 hitting to go with 14 assists and five digs.
"The turning point's name was Kelly Murphy," said Barrington coach Christopher Bronke. "I think she is considered the best junior in the nation. Kelly Murphy is absolutely an amazing player. There was just too much Murphy too often.
"As I look at the stats, we did what we wanted to against every other hitter."
Murphy said placing fourth last year provided motivation after the first game.
"I knew how it felt last year losing this match," she said. "We just wanted to end the season on a good note so we all stepped it up in game two because we didn't want the season to be over."
"We had fun," Scheibe said. "For us to be ending on a good note is awesome. The first game, I just thought we came out really flat. We weren't passing the ball."
Michigan-bound setter Lexi Zimmerman had 12 assists and 11 kills on .588 hitting for Barrington, which was outblocked, 6-1.
"I think this is a season of dreams," Zimmerman said. "We have grown to know and love each other so much."
St. Francis-Joliet Catholic
In its 58-minute semifinal, St. Francis never trailed after going up 3-2 in the first game and 1-0 in the second. The Angels fell behind 8-1 in the second game.
Boken led the assault with 10 kills on .375 hitting. Meghan Matusiak and Megan Barnicle added seven kills apiece while Kocher had 26 assists.
Nicole Kump and Murphy each had seven kills for Joliet Catholic, which was outhit, .361 to .064.
Ohlander's nine kills and Culbertson's eight were more than enough to push Hononegah into its first final. Culbertson hit .400 and her four block assists helped the Lady Indians to a 7-2 blocking advantage.
Natalie Barton led Barrington with eight kills in 12 attempts, but her team was outhit, .286 to .191. Zimmerman had 16 assists, eight digs and seven kills.
A 4-0 start got Hononegah rolling for good in the first game. Game two featured 13 ties, the last at 22-22. It ended with back-to-back aces by Shannon Slick and a Culbertson kill.