When it came right down to it, Emily Weber wasn’t just interested in continuing a crazy regional winning streak.
Instead, the Mother McAuley senior setter and team captain just wanted to savor her last chance to play on her home court.
And savor she did as the host Mighty Macs defeated Reavis 25-7, 25-12 on Oct. 31 in their Class 4A regional championship to win the program’s 38th straight regional crown since 1982.
Weber, a three-year varsity player, said home court is a special place.
“From sophomore year to now, you leave a lot on the floor because we’ve done so much in this gym,” Weber said. “Every single person on the team has grown so much. It’s special for this to be our last time playing on this court.”
Mother McAuley advanced to play Oak Park-River Forest on Nov. 4, after press time, in a Class 4A Marist sectional semifinal. The host RedHawks played Argo in the other semifinal.
In the Reavis win, Weber (St. Cajetan) efficiently led the offense with 22 assists and 5 digs.
Coach Jen DeJarld has seen plenty of improvement from Weber, both as a leader and in her volleyball skills.
“Emily has always had that leadership quality in her. There’s a quality about her that her peers are really drawn to her,” DeJarld said. “She’s really confident in who she is. It shows in how she plays.”
Displaying her impressive service game, Weber and company closed the first set on a monster 10-0 run that featured 3 kills from senior Amia Owolabi, a kill each from Molly McDermott and Delaney Davis and a block from Davis.
“Emily is our best server on the team,” DeJarld said. “I can tell her to put it anywhere, and she has just pinpoint accuracy. She goes for it at a high level every time.”
With teams from Schurz and Kennedy ineligible to play due to the Chicago Teachers Union strike, McAuley did not have a regional semifinal opponent.
McAuley improved to 28-8 with the Reavis win. The Macs started the season 0-4, but that slow start is now old news.
For Weber, she didn’t want her senior season to be derailed.
“I said to myself ‘I’m not letting this happen again,’” Weber said. “That wasn’t us. We needed to figure ourselves out. As a team, it was the same mentality. No one wanted the season to be like that the rest of the way.”
Also contributing against Reavis were Owolabi (10 kills), Alena Pedroza (5 kills), Grace Niego (6 digs), Connie LeBel (10 digs, 2 kills), Abby Sarich (3 kills) and McDermott (3 kills).
Owolabi was a force at the pin and in the middle.
“My team really depends on me as someone to put the ball away. My confidence has really gotten better,” Owolabi said. “Winning the regional means a lot. The hard work is paying off, and we’re doing the right things as a team, especially the little things.”
While the program always has state as the postseason goal, the regional title is a positive step on that journey.
“We don’t take any game lightly,” DeJarld said. “We’re working hard and focusing on our side of the court to be better in every way. It doesn’t matter who we play.”