For the second time in three years, the U-High volleyball team will play at Redbird Arena in the state final four. Many of the seniors on this years team were a part of the Pioneers program in 2017 when U-High took home a third place trophy.
“I was part of the U-High team that went to state my sophomore year and I was super grateful for that experience,” said U-High senior Isabel Schaefbauer. “Being able to go back a second time is something that not a lot of people get to do. To go with this group of girls, it’s awesome.”
“The girls that were there a couple of years ago, they aren’t satisfied with third place,” said U-high coach Mike Bolhuis. “They want another shot at trying to win a state championship, and we use that as motivation.”
Another rallying point for U-High is their state semifinal opponent: Joliet Catholic, the team that beat the Pioneers in a sectional final last year. U-High has patiently waited over a year to get another crack at JCA.
“We haven’t really talked about it, but I think we are really excited to hopefully play them, and we just want revenge for last year,” said U-High senior Alayna Crabtree. “We’re going to work our hardest in practice this next week and we’ll just do our best and see how it goes.”
“They’re not happy when teams beat them, so it’s something that they remember and they will use that as fuel,” said Bolhuis. “So, JCA is a talented team and the girls will be really excited to play them.”
The last two seasons have helped prepare U-High for this weekend, and the Pioneers are just two wins away from claiming a Class 3A state volleyball championship.