ROCKFORD – Facing three consecutive set points and a possible third and deciding set against Johnsburg, Woodstock's volleyball team rallied around one another, much like it has throughout a turnaround season.
"It was a lot of teamwork and a lot of grinding ... getting stuff done together," junior Sophie Wicker said. "We needed to go back to the things we practice everyday, and work really hard.
"Being able to trust each other on the court."
The Blue Streaks were able to fend off all three set points against the Skyhawks and came away with a thrilling, 25-18, 28-26 victory on Tuesday in a Class 3A Boylan Regional semifinal.
Woodstock, seeded fifth, will face No. 1 Carmel in the regional final at 6 p.m. Thursday. The Streaks (24-12-1) last won a regional title in 2006, according to IHSA.org, and their 24 wins are the program's most since 2007.
"It's insane to be in this position right now," said Wicker, whose Streaks finished with 11 wins last season. "Coming into this year, I thought our team chemistry was much better, and it's a just a really fun environment to be in."
Juniors Lauryn Hahn and Hanna Berry fended off the first two set points by Johnsburg with kills, and a block by the 5-foot-7 Wicker gave the Streaks new life. Woodstock took advantage, as Berry put away the final point in the middle of the Skyhawks' defense to extend the Streaks' season.
"We started to lose communication a little bit, but we stayed together and pulled through," said Berry, who led all players with 12 kills and 18 digs. "It was exciting, even when we went down, that we stayed strong and together. We never gave up."
Woodstock coach Jill Rokosik agreed.
"It shows that the girls have a lot of fight," Rokosik said. "I thought they really worked hard defensively to keep the ball alive. But so did Johnsburg. That second set was phenomenal by both teams."
Wicker had 20 assists and 14 digs for Woodstock, Hahn had seven kills and 10 digs, and Emma Brand had five blocks.
For Johnsburg (21-15), Morgan Madsen collected 13 digs, three kills and four blocks, Hayley Schmidt had six kills, and Adisyn Illg had 15 assists and five digs. Megan Madsen had three kills, four blocks and five digs, Sheridan Milewski had four kills, and Leah Kottke had 19 digs.
Johnsburg went a combined 50-24 the last two seasons with a regional in 2017 and conference title this year.
"Most people didn't expect us to play as well as we have," Skyhawks coach Jackie Barnette said. "We still captured a (Kishwaukee River Conference) title. Nobody can take that away from them. And they played with a lot of heart and effort. That's all I can ask."
STAR OF THE MATCH
Hanna Berry, Woodstock, jr., OH
Berry came up big for the Blue Streaks, leading the team in kills (12) and digs (18).
24: Wins for Woodstock, its most since 2007.
AND ANOTHER THING ...
No. 5 Woodstock will face top-seeded Carmel at 6 p.m. Thursday for a regional title. The Streaks last won a regional championship in 2006, according to IHSA.org.