One day after making her verbal commitment to Grand Valley State in Michigan to be a high jumper, Hersey senior Alessia Olhava had her team jumping for joy when her ace ended Tuesday's Class 4A Hoffman Estates regional semifinal match.
Olhava served the final 3 points of the Huskies' 25-17, 25-6 win over No. 20-seed Maine East (10-18).
The No. 4 seeded Huskies (27-9) advance to Thursday's 6 p.m. title to face No. 5 Buffalo Grove (21-11) in a match featuring the Mid-Suburban East co-champions who split during the regular season.
Maine East made the first set much closer than Hersey would have liked but the Huskies raced ahead 12-1 in the second set and never looked back.
"We came out a little slow," said Olhava, who had 4 kills and 4 digs. "But we picked up our energy and had a little more fun in the second set.
"We realized we didn't have to make it as close as we did in the first set when we were kid of lackadaisical. We actually started pushing in the second set getting points in a row."
Junior Kaiya Eshoo served 6 straight points for the 12-1 lead. The junior setter finished with 22 assists and also had 4 kills off her crafty second attacks.
Other top attackers for the Huskies were Boston College recruit Kati Kaburov (11 kills), Juliette van den Herik (4), Janine Boyan (3) and Kate Lubbe (1).
Leading the back row in digs were Maddie Mullin (9) and Karolina Wojdacz (8). Katie Moreno had 3.
"Any win in the state tournament is a good win," said Hersey coach Nancy Lill. "We'll take it. We started out with a win in our first set of the state tournament but Set 2 is how we should play."
Playing strong at the net were van den Herick and Boyan, who each had 3 blocks.
"Juliette and Janine blocked well," Lill added. "Karolina (2 aces) and Alessia served really tough and Kati hit well.
"We needed to come out and play out game. We wanted to serve aggressively and establish our middles which I thought we did. We had everyone involved and I thought we played a solid all-around match."
As usual, junior Chrisavgi Kotsifas was solid for the Blue Demons, putting down 8 kills.
"She will definitely be our leader next year," said Maine East coach Rintu Philip. "I knew walking into the gym this would be a tough one. Hersey has a solid program with solid players.
"But we competed in the first set and then just had a mental shutdown in the second. But we're really young and will learn from this."