Sports can be unpredictable, but New Trier and Glenbrook South took that to new heights in a sectional showdown Wednesday evening.
The twists and turns kept everyone guessing, from the raucous crowd to the stressed-out coaches.
“We thought we won or lost multiple times during that match,” Trevs coach Hannah Hsieh said. “It was fun. We will definitely remember this game.”
The instant classic could only produce one victor, however, and that honor went to New Trier, which erased a seven-point third-set deficit to capture the sectional championship with an exhausting 26-24, 24-26, 27-25 win on Nov. 1 in Glenview.
In each set, the team that built a substantial advantage went on to lose. In the decisive set, the Titans grabbed a 16-9 lead before the Trevians stormed back, tying the game at 19-19. But GBS broke away again to reach match point with a two-point lead, 24-22.
New Trier had a final surge left, however. A KitKat McGregor kill and three Titans errors completed the Trevians’ comeback victory.
“It feels insane. Obviously that’s like the craziest win we’ve ever had,” McGregor said. “I didn’t even want to think about how that could have been our last game. I just wanted to think keep the smile on our face and just win. And I feel amazing about it. It was definitely our best game.”
McGregor, a junior outside hitter, stepped up during the drama, tallying 5 of her 6 kills in the final set. Fellow junior Emma McHatton was there with her, smacking four kills in the third set.
Before her two most clutch kills, McGregor also had two hitting errors. But senior setter Jenny Perkins wasn’t thinking about that.
“I know they all can swing it,” Perkins said of the Trevians attackers. “Sometimes you have a bit of an off swing, but I know they’ll all get it in. I trust them.”
Perkins dished out 7 of her 14 assists in the third set, and added 3 kills and an ace. Her fellow senior setter, Alex Belak, added 13 assists in the match.
Plenty of Trevians contributed to the special night, but none more than star Ana Vetter (match-high 18 kills). The Wake Forest commit carried New Trier to an opening-set win that saw the Trevians down 17-10 at one point.
The Trevs clawed their way back into the game but were still down 23-20 late. A point later, her team down 23-21, Vetter kills ended four of the next five points to hand New Trier the 26-24 win.
In the second set, New Trier bounded out to a nice lead, 16-12, near the midway point. The Titans fought back. GBS middle Caroline Crawford smacked 5 of her 13 kills in the set, helping her team escape a 24-23 deficit to force a third set.
Crawford was at it again in the third set as GBS took the sizable advantage, but the Trevians well-rounded offense — McGregor, McHatten and Vetter combining for 13 kills in the set — was a factor in the dramatic ending.
“That is the nature of this team. We have strong senior leadership that wants it and the girls love each other and they want to do it for each other,” Hsieh said. “I think that is a huge difference when you have girls who want to play for each other and seniors who don’t want their seasons to end.
“That was a complete team effort. They had moments of great play, we had moments of great play — and not. I’m just so proud of them for the fight.”
The victory was New Trier’s 14th in a row, and it was the Trevs (28-6) first three-set match since Oct. 6, a span of 10 matches.
New Trier earned its first sectional championship since 2017 and moves on to play potent Benet Academy (37-2) in the Bartlett Super-sectional at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 3. The Redwings placed second in IHSA Class 4A in 2022 and have six more state trophies, including four championships, since 2011.