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Sports

Ella Marvel claims title as Ottawa edges La Salle-Peru for sectional championship

Lady Pirates hit past La Salle-Peru, Morris for fourth consecutive championship

OTTAWA — Behind a championship from junior singles standout Ella Marvel, a runner-up finish by the doubles team of senior Mary Riva and 11th-grader Kyleigh Olszewski, and a third-place mark by the duo of senior Marta Johnson and junior Rebekah Felty, the Ottawa Lady Pirates tennis team earned its fourth straight Class 1A sectional title here Saturday on its home courts.

Ottawa scored 32 points to finish ahead of rival La Salle-Peru [24] and Morris [16].

Marvel dropped only four games in four matches during play on Friday and Saturday and closed out a third sectional title (two singles, one doubles) with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over La Salle-Peru sophomore Carlie Miller.

"We all worked hard as a team over the summer even though we were all still unsure if we'd have a season, and then worked even harder when we found out we would for sure have one," Marvel said. "We all feel fortunate that we were able to play.

"(Winning a sectional) was obviously my goal, and I feel I played four pretty solid matches the past two days. Going to state would have been nice, but I feel good with finishing up this season the way I did. I cant complain."

Miller reached the title match with a pair of wins on Friday and a tough 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 semifinal triumph over Ottawa junior Sara Meyer.

"Going into the championship match against (Marvel), I was wanting to win a couple of games against her, and I'm proud of myself at getting two. She's a really good player," said Miller.

"I think I did pretty good as a sophomore this season and this being my first on varsity. I feel I was able to hold my own against the tough players. In the offseason I want to work on getting stronger overall, stronger with my backhand and a harder second serve."

The doubles title went to senior Kyla Kjellesvik and junior Grace Lines, as the teammates defeated Johnson and Felty in the semifinals, then topped the Lady Pirates' Riva and Olszewski 7-5, 7-5 for the championship.

"I think we are both always looking forward to playing tennis," said Lines, who has teamed up with Kjellesvik for the past three years. "When we heard there wasn't going to be a possibility of going to state, we really made (a sectional title) our goal. We didn't do as well as we would have like last weekend (at the Interstate Eight Conference Tournament) so we wanted to come back this weekend and play stronger, and we did."

"I felt the past two days we played very confident together and we did a good job of covering open space," said Kjellesvik. "We didn't play with the confidence we needed last weekend for whatever reason, but that wasn't the case (Friday) or today. I think the only thing on our minds was to win the sectional championship, and I feel we played pretty good all-around tennis to get it."

Meyer claimed the third-place singles match with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Lady Cavaliers junior Catherine Engles, while Johnson and Felty slipped past L-P seniors Bri Strehl and Lauren Klein 7-5, 7-5 to earn third as well.

"People tend to forget about it, to be honest," said Marta Johnson of playing for her dad and Ottawa coach Steve Johnson. "It hasn't made a difference to me — at the court he is coach, and away from it he is dad. It's kind of sad this is the end of my tennis career here at Ottawa. It's been a long time playing on there courts.

"I'm so thankful that we were able to play this season despite COVID-19, and it's awesome knowing that we — Rebekah and I and the team — finished things off with a win."

St. Bede singles players Caroline Moskalewicz and Emily Szczepaniak as well as Streator's Claire Vogel earned one victory before being eliminated on Friday, while the doubles squads of Streator's Haley Berry and Lora Berry, Princeton's Emma Zelenik and Olivia Alter, and Mendota's Lizzy Bresley and Zoe Finley also went 1-1 in Friday's opening rounds.

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