Recently named Coach of the Year for the East Suburban Catholic conference, Marian Central volleyball coach Laura Watling admitted the super sectional for her team didn’t rattle her nerves the way the Cubs’ final World Series game did.
“I was more nervous for the Cubs game. You feel pressure for the girls in the moment, but I’m not nervous when it comes to skill and being able to do what they need to do,” Watling said. “I’m confident in them knowing that they have the skill, power and experience to get through this.”
The Lady ’Canes defeated Rosary 2-0 (25-16, 25-20) in the IHSA Class 3A super sectional, hosted on their home court Nov. 5.
Seniors Lauren Hanlon, Sydney Nemtuda, Rachel Noonan and McKayla Wuensch were named ESCC All-Conference Selections. Nemtuda, also making All-Conference in 2015, was selected as Player of the Year.
Against Rosary, Hanlon contributed eight kills and three blocks. Wuensch had 19 assists and nine digs. Nemtuda, who recently set the school record for kills on varsity, added seven more to her count, bringing her total to 995 during her time at Marian.
“We came in nervous, but it was good nerves. We like the challenge, we like the competition, but we knew we were prepared. I had a lot of confidence going into this, and so did my team,” Nemtuda said.
The match was an emotional one, with the 10 seniors playing their last match at Landers Pavilion. Collectively, the group has only had five losses in their time together at Marian Central — one this year, three last year, one their sophomore year and none as freshmen.
“What they’ve been able to do together is just unbelievable,” Watling said. “That’s why you look to these girls and you know they understand what it takes to win, ’cause that’s all they’ve been doing since they were freshmen, is playing really good volleyball.”
Athletic Director Curtis Price will be joining the Lady ’Canes at Redbird Arena for the state tournament. The tournament will be taking place as the Hurricanes’ football team takes the field for the state quarterfinals in Vernon Hills.
“I will tell the girls good luck, have fun and enjoy this experience,” Price said. “This game really meant something, and this is the last time this group of seniors had a chance to play in our building together. For them to end their career with the opportunity to go to state is just tremendous.”
Hoping to repeat as state champions, the team will play at Redbird Arena in Normal in a semifinal match against Mascoutah Friday, Nov. 11. On Saturday, Nov. 12, they will play their final match as a team.
“If you just rely on what you think you can do, it doesn’t mean anything. You have to show them what you can do,” Watling said. “I feel like this year, more than any other year, they’ve completely owned it and stepped up.”