METAMORA — During warmups Monday, Kamryn Olson could tell something was off with the La Salle-Peru volleyball team.
“I don’t think anyone was on during warmups,” Olson said. “I don’t know (what it was). It was just not 100 percent.”
The off kilter warmups spilled into the match, but the Lady Cavaliers got out of their funk to beat Morton 25-19, 26-25 in a Class 3A Metamora Sectional semifinal.
“We brought that crazy warmup into the match,” Olson said. “We were a little bit frazzled and you could see it in our play. Arika (Richardson) calmed us down a little bit. I feel like now that we’ve won a sectional match, we’ll go into the next one more confident and less frazzled.”
The Lady Cavs (34-3) can’t afford to be frazzled Wednesday when they take on defending state champion Sterling in the sectional final at 6:30 p.m.
“Obviously, they’re a really heavy-armed team with three Division I players,” Olson said. “We expect good competition. We really want to see them again. We want another chance.
“We just want a big upset. That’s what everyone wants.”
The Golden Warriors (32-6) beat Metamora 25-15, 25-12 in Wednesday’s first semifinal. Sterling defeated L-P 25-18, 25-15 on Oct. 21 at L-P.
“They’re the toughest team we’ve played this year,” L-P senior Anna Quesse said. “They were state champs last year. One of our big goals is to do better than last time.
“They really brought it when we watched them (against Metamora), but we’re hoping to get a win.
Sterling’s Brook and Bree Borum combined for 22 kills against Metamora.
“We played them well until about the middle of each set then they finished,” L-P coach Mark Haberkorn said about the first meeting with the Golden Warriors. “We just have to stay strong the whole match. We have to be more consistent and execute better. They have big hitters. We just have to try to get some touches and be in the right spot at the right time.”
After the slow start against Morton on Wednesday, the Lady Cavs executed well.
L-P fell behind 4-0 and 5-2 before Quesse slammed down a kill to give the serve to Emma Happ.
Happ served an ace and rattled off four points to give the Lady Cavs the lead at 7-6.
Paige Champlin served for three points and Brooke Shirley had two aces in a four-point run as L-P took control with an 18-9 lead.
“We served tough,” Haberkorn said. “We kept them out of their system. We had a lot of balls hit the line on our serve. We got a lot of breaks on our serves. We got a lot of free balls from them, so that made it a lot easier on our offense.”
The Lady Cavs spread out the offense with Olson leading the way with 12 kills followed by eight from Richardson and five from Quesse.
“Our tip game was really strong,” Olson said. “We had a really good mindset on that. Our serve-received started to pick it up. I felt like Paige’s setting and my setting helped out. I feel like our defense had to get our offense ready then our offense responded.”
The second set was tight throughout with neither team leading by more than four points.
L-P trailed in the set until Richardson put down a kill to start a six-point run that included three straight kills by Olson, a kill by Kenzie DeFosse and a block by Olson to put the Lady Cavs ahead 14-11.
The Lady Potters responded to tie the set at 14-14. It was tied twice more before Morton built a 21-17 lead.
L-P clawed back to tie it at 22-22 and it was tied again at 24-24 before a Richardson kill and a Morton error sent the Lady Cavs into the Sweet 16 for the third year in a row and the eighth time in the 13 years of the four-class system.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.