No regional titles for Maroons, Bulldogs as seasons end for both

Oct. 27—CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign Central volleyball team couldn't slow down Lincoln on Thursday night, with the Railsplitters emerging with a 25-14, 25-16 win in a Class 3A regional title match on the Maroons' home court.

The fourth-seeded Maroons (23-14) were never able to sustain momentum against the second-seeded Railsplitters following a comfortable win against rival Centennial in a regional semifinal match on Tuesday night.

"Lincoln played a great match just like they have all year," Central coach Justin Tomaska said. "They didn't make a lot of errors. Just unfortunate that we were placed in the hardest sub-sectional in the state, by far."

Bridget Cassady approached double-double territory to lead the Maroons with nine kills and 11 digs, while Cricket Wagner added 12 digs and Ava Clark assisted on 10 points.

"Our seniors, this has been a great group for us," Tomaska said. "They had the leadership for us and made some plays when we needed them."

The loss brought an end to the third straight season in which the Maroons have won more than 20 matches.

"It's just something to build on," Tomaska said. "We have a lot of youthful pieces, about half-and-half youth and half returning starters. Just having that youth get that experience, I think it really sets us up for a great few seasons coming up."

Bulldogs stumble. The third set didn't go as planned for Mahomet-Seymour on Thursday night.

And because of it, another superb season by the Bulldogs ended against Normal U-High.

The host and top-seeded Pioneers fended off a comeback attempt by the third-seeded Bulldogs to post a 25-20, 24-26, 25-13 victory. It's the third straight season Normal U-High has defeated M-S in a regional final.

An energetic second set carried the Bulldogs (32-5) back from the brink of elimination before errors crept in to dash their hopes of their first regional championship since 2019.

"We just couldn't get in rhythm and it was a disaster, the third set was," Bulldogs coach Stan Bergman said. "The passing, missed serves. If you give a team like that free balls, they've got so many weapons to put the ball down that you can't do that."

Avery Allen led the Bulldogs with a 14-dig, 12-kill double-double, while Ellie Dallas added 13 assists and six digs and Lily Bosworth and Ellie Barker combined for 15 kills.

"Avery really showed off what she's learned and how she wanted to play," Bergman said of the Boise State beach volleyball commit. "She had a really good match. ... All four of those girls did, it's just servicing, passing and then the ball control that really let us down in the final stretch."

Much of the Bulldogs' core returns after the team's third consecutive season of at least 30 wins.

"It's kind of one of those things you can sit back and know what we've got coming in from the junior high," Bergman said. "In the next couple of years, we should hopefully see that turnover stay pretty consistent as it relates to the talent level we have at the high school."