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St. Francis runs lead to second straight title

11/16/2013, 7:31pm CST
By Phil Brozynski

Molly Haggerty and Mary Boken each had seven kllls, Danielle Messa had 11 assists as St. Francis crushed LaSalle-Peru 25-19, 25-7 to win its second consecutive state championship.

NORMAL, Ill. – A sea of red and green from LaSalle-Peru filled the stands at Redbird Arena Saturday for the Class 3A state championship match. What they witnessed was their team being swept away by a tidal wave of blue.

Molly Haggerty and Mary Boken each had seven kllls, Danielle Messa had 11 assists and Sam Dubiel added six digs as St. Francis crushed the Cavaliers 25-19, 25-7 to win its second consecutive state championship.

And in the process, Peg Kopec got her 10th state title, breaking a tie with former Mother McAuley coach Nancy Pedersen.

“This was as good as any of them,” said Kopec, now 1159-222-2 in 38 years at the Wheaton school. “It’s a pretty special achievement for this team. There was a lot of pressure on them throughout the season. We tried to take some off of them, but it’s difficult. They’re pretty talented and people expected them to be here.

“Everyone had us picked us to win state, so all you could do is disappoint,” she added. “Every year is different .. a different team with different talents, different problems and a different set of circumstances. This is team No. 13 (2013). This is their year. They’re all great.”

St. Francis (39-3) broke a 13-13 tie in Game 1 on a kill by Haggerty, closing on a 12-6 run fueled by a putaway by Kamryn Malloy and four more Haggerty kills, then raced to a 11-3 lead in Game 2. The rest was formality.

“It was like a normal game for most of the game, then afterward it hit me,” Boken said. “I don’t know about everyone else. It wasn’t just like winning that game that hits you, but like the whole season. All the things you accomplished, dreaming about winning a state championship as a young girl.”

The victory capped a whirlwind few months for 6-foot-1 sophomore Molly Haggerty, who finished second in the world with the U.S. junior national team in August.

“They’re both pretty cool,” she said. “First in Illinois, representing your school and state. I think it’s pretty cool.”

The state title was also the third for Maddie Haggerty, who was sidelined a month ago with a torn labrum and is scheduled to have surgery. She is the only player in Illinois history to play on three state championship teams, although Molly could shatter that record by the time her career is over.

“I’m really proud of Molly,” Maddie Haggerty said. “It’s nice to win two with her and one with my other sister (Meghan), so we can all reminisce on it together.”

LaSalle-Peru (35-4) got six kills from sophomore Taylor Gibson and five kills from junior Shana Puetz.

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