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Back-to-Back Macs! | Mother McAuley tops Benet for second straight 4A title

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By Randy Whalen
Correspondent

When the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the start of the 2020 girls volleyball season from August to spring of the following year, it also delayed the debut of Ellie White.

When that season got underway in March 2021 with a home victory over Joliet Catholic, White became the first freshman to start for Mother McAuley coach Jen DeJarld.

Last weekend, White capped her career by helping the Mighty Macs to their second straight Class 4A state championship.

The senior outside hitter smacked a match-high with 18 kills and added eight digs, an assist and a block as McAuley (38-3) toppled Benet, 25-22, 18-25, 25-16, in the state title match, played Nov. 11 at CEFCU Arena at Illinois State University in Normal.

The state championship is the Macs’ state record 17th, and the fourth time they have won titles in consecutive seasons. Their last back-to-back titles came in 1994 and 1995 in Class AA.

“My four years here came and went so fast,” White said. “To put on this jersey is something special. This year it really hit me and the fact that this was my final match playing for the Mighty Macs, is crazy.

“I’m just super-proud of everyone.”

DeJarld won her fourth title in her 19th season as head coach.

“She’s been so special in so many ways,” DeJarld said of White. “She’s the most humble, sincere person that I’ve ever coached. She helps and encourages everyone. Just her presence elevates the team and everyone elevates their game because of her.”

Benet (39-3) had defeated the Macs in two sets in the championship match of the Glenbard East Autumnfest on Oct. 14.

In the state title match, the Macs bounced back after dropping the second set to take the decisive third set.

With the score at 1-1, White had a tip kill to start a 4-0 spurt which gave them the lead for good. White later tallied back-to-back kills to give McAuley a 16-7 lead.

An ace by junior right side hitter Abbey Williams (4 kills, 10 digs, 2 aces, 2 assists) ended it.
“Coach just told us to remember how we played and how we felt in the first set,” Williams said of the adjustment the Mighty Macs made for the third set. “It’s just having all these girls to look up to and we hyped each other up.
“This is crazy, This is my first season on the varsity and I’m so grateful for being on this team with so much talent.”
McAuley senior middle blocker Ellery Rees had five kills and two blocks and libero Sam Falk, one of nine seniors on the team, had 15 digs. Freshman setter Peyton Heatherly finished with 32 assists and junior outside hitter Sydney Buchanan bashed eight kills.
“I’ve felt a lot more confident out there and it felt really, really good,” Buchanan said. “We had to fight for every point and this is awesome. I’m just so proud of this team.”
Junior outside hitter Audrey Asleson had 17 kills and three blocks), sophomore middle hitter Lynney Tarnow finished with 13 kills and sophomore setter Ellie Stiernagle (36 assists) led Benet, which entered the final with a 20-match winning streak.

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