Stevenson volleyball coach Tim Crow went to see his star athlete play an outdoor game last spring.
Unfortunately for Crow, Sophie Sorenson didn't get the chance to finish her sectional lacrosse match.
"She actually got ejected from the game for two penalties," Crow said with a laugh. "Which is really funny because it's not her character."
Crow has seen the competitive side of Sorenson for the last three varsity volleyball seasons, and the senior outside hitter showcased it again Tuesday night in the third-seeded Stevenson's 25-16, 25-9 win over No. 14 Lake Zurich in the teams' Class 4A regional semifinal in Lincolnshire.
Sorenson took over the opening set, which Stevenson trailed early, and finished with a match-best 9 kills, as the Patriots (25-11) advanced to Thursday's 6 p.m. final on their home court against No. 11 Cary-Grove. Sorenson, who verbally committed to play lacrosse for the University of Connecticut in January and plans to sign her letter of intent next month, also had 5 aces and 12 digs.
"She killed us," said Lake Zurich coach Rachel Wiatrowski, whose team lost to Stevenson in two sets in North Suburban Conference action as well. "She's a great athlete, obviously. She hit well. She did everything well."
"I was 'on,' I guess," Sorenson said.
And the all-state lacrosse player was determined to make an impact the entire match. After all, volleyball is in its win-or-go-home season.
"It crossed my mind today," Sorenson said. "I was like, 'This could be my last time playing volleyball, ever. So I just have to leave it all out there.' I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform. But it's a team effort. We all have to be doing well."
That happened for Stevenson, but not before Lake Zurich built a 9-5 lead in the opening set. Crow called timeout after his Patriots committed 3 unforced errors in a row, and they responded by winning 20 of the next 27 points.
With Stevenson up 15-13, Sorenson served an ace that ricocheted off a Bears player and then a basktball-backboard support above the court. The 5-foot-8 lefty then threaded a line-drive serve between players.
Sorenson leads Stevenson in aces, but also serving errors.
"Sophie served unbelievably tonight, aggressively," Crow said. "She's been struggling with her serve, actually, the last probably 10 matches. But when she gets dialed in at the service line, it's a tough ball to return. It doesn't matter who we're serving to."
Lake Zurich never recovered.
"Once we couldn't get our serve-receive passes up to set, we just couldn't put balls away," said three-year varsity outside hitter Claudia Kieda, who is one of eight players the Bears will lose to graduation. "It totally started to break down mentally and physically."
Stevenson had other players besides Sorenson play well. Lily Cozzi and Makayla Uremovich had 6 and 4 kills, respectively, Grace Tully dished out 17 assists, and Abby Keevins notched 8 digs.
"It was nice to see the other girls step up too," Crows said, "and not just watch the Sophie show."
Lake Zurich, which finished the season with a losing mark, got 2 kills apiece from Riley O'Sullivan and Kate Keenan.
"We go in roller coasters, where we lay back and start to go into tipping matches with people, and we're not a good short-court team," Wiatrowski said. "They were swinging at us, and we weren't."