PONTIAC — La Salle-Peru junior Katie Olson tried not too think as much about her serving Tuesday.
“I’ve had a rough spot (serving) so it was just serving and not really thinking about it,” Olson said about her approach Tuesday.
It paid off as Olson rattled off a nine-point service run in the first set and finished with 15 points to help the Lady Cavaliers to a 25-14, 25-7 victory over rival Ottawa in a Class 3A Pontiac Regional semifinal.
“I thought serving was probably the highlight of the night,” L-P coach Mark Haberkorn said. “We had two servers (Olson and Brittany Zawacki) who made it very difficult for Ottawa to get in their offense.”
Zawacki put together a nine-point run in the second set and also finished with 15 points as the No. 1-seeded Lady Cavs advanced to Thursday’s title match where they will face Streator, a team L-P beat twice in the regular season, including a 25-14, 25-4 victory in the regular season finale.
“Both their balls move, and when they’re on, it’s a very difficult ball to pass,” Haberkorn said. “It was just one of those nights where they were in that groove.”
So were the rest of the Lady Cavs (28-7).
During Olson’s run, which gave L-P a 12-1 lead, senior outside hitter put down four of her match-high 12 kills.
The Lady Cavs also received strong net play from Heather Senica (four kills), Brianna Zeman (four kills) and Ellie Senica (two blocks) and a solid defensive effort led by libero Sarah Shevlin (five digs) and Zawacki (five digs). Olson and Suarez each added four digs.
“We played really well,” Olson said. “We just had everything ready. … We have been practicing pretty well for the last week. It’s regionals - everyone stepped up throughout our season and it’s all coming together now at the end.”
The Lady Pirates, who lost middle hitter Kenzie Rombach to an injury in the first set, had it’s season end Tuesday with a 9-21-1 record.
“Definitely not our best effort tonight,” Ottawa coach Bernadette Savitch said. “I think we started off playing strong. We had some mishaps here or there. We were hoping to get in the swing of things, but Kenzie went down early in that first game. We haven’t had to deal with a middle being out all season. We’ve had to deal with pretty much everybody else (being out). Our girls really struggled with that.”
Tuesday’s loss marked the end of Savitch’s tenure as Ottawa’s coach as she is stepping down to spend more time with her family.
“It’s tough this is my last match,” Savitch said. “Obviously, it’s emotional. I really didn’t want to end it tonight like this, but I know I’m going to get to spend more time with my kids and that’s very important to me to be able to chase them around and go to their sporting events. It’s kind of bittersweet. It’s going to be hard because volleyball is in my blood. I’ve always done it. It’ll be hard to not be coaching and not have it in my life, but I think I’m doing it for the right reasons.”
Savitch led the Lady Pirates to two regional final appearances in five seasons and guided Ottawa to an 18-17 record last season for it’s first winning record since 1995.
“Bernadette been an unbelievably dedicated coach in our program,” Ottawa athletic director Mike Cooper said. “She wears her emotions on her sleeves. She loves Lady Pirate volleyball and I think the strides the program have taken over the last couple years have been very good. We’re going to miss her.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.