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L-P scratches 23-year state itch

Twenty three years. That’s how long it’s been since the last time LaSalle-Peru reached the IHSA State Volleyball Tournament.

The Lady Cavs took home fourth place in the 1990 Class 2A finals in the old two-class system. That same year, Princeton was crowned as the Class A champion and Mendota reached the Elite Eight as well in Class A.

Fast forward to 2013, and the Lady Cavs are back in the hunt for a state championship. L-P rallied to defeat Champaign Centennial in three sets Saturday to capture the Washington Super-Sectional crown. The victory scratched a 23-year itch, sending the Lady Cavs back to state.

L-P senior Josie Kampwerth said going State “means everything and we have proved to everyone that the Lady Cavs earned the opportunity to compete to win a state championship.”

L-P (34-3) will face Chicago Payton (27-11) at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Redbird Arena on the campus of Illinois State University in Normal. Payton found its place at state by defeating Woodstock Marian 25-23, 22-25, 25-21 at the Antioch Super-Sectional.

L-P athletic director D’Wyane Bates, the old Chicago Bear, said in the school’s new tradition, the Lady Cavs will have a formal State Sendoff, escorted through the halls of the school by the school band.

School will be dismissed at 1:05 p.m. Friday to allow the student body and community time to prepare for the trip to Bloomington.

Payton reaches the Final Four in Class 3A for the third time since the IHSA was expanded to four classes. The Grizzlies placed fourth in 2008 and 2010, seeking its first state tournament victory.

The second semifinal in 3A will be a heavyweight bout between Breese Central (35-5) and Wheaton St. Francis (37-3), which own 11 state titles between them.

Breese Central won two state titles in Class A (‘96, ‘05) and another in 2A (‘07), claiming eight state trophies in all. St. Francis, the defending 3A champion, has won nine state titles under 38th-year head coach Peg Kupec, and 16 state trophies in all. The Spartans defeated Champaign Centennial in three sets in the 2012 state semifinals.

Class 2A: The Illinois Valley will also be represented by Fieldcrest in Normal as one of the Final Four finalists in 2A. The Lady Knights make their first state tournament appearance in school history since the district was formed in 1992.

The Lady Knights will face a tall task in its semifinal matchup vs. undefeated Albion Edwards County (40-0). The Lions making their second straight and third in six years. They lost to Port Byron Riverdale in last year’s third-place match.

Fieldcrest started its postseason run by defeating El-Paso-Gridley to claim the Hall Regional championship. The Lady Knights topped Watska at the El Paso-Gridley Sectional and downed the Three Rivers’ Fulton Steamers 25-13, 25-18 in Saturday’s Bureau Valley Super-Sectional.

The second semifinal matches defending 2A champ Deer Creek-Mackinaw (36-1) vs. Elmhurst Immaculate Conception (34-6).

Notes: Three of the four finalists from 2012 return in Class 4A, including defending champion Lisle Benet Academy (35-5). Also back are Winnetka New Trier (30-3) and 13-time state champion Mother McCauley (38-2).

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