Erienne Barry (pictured at right) and her St. Charles East teammates will face crosstown rival St. Charles North in Tuesday's 7:00 p.m. sectional semifinal at St. Charles East.
After advancing to the state championship game in 2008 - only to lose to St. Charles East - Benet has fallen short each of the last two years, losing to Quincy in the supersectional in 2009 and falling in the sectional finals to Hinsdale South in 2010.
But Benet's 6-foot-3 middle hitter Meghan Haggerty said that this is a different Redwings' team.
"The chemistry is a lot different this year," Haggerty said. "Last year, we had five seniors. This year, we have 10, but we're not separating the seniors from the juniors. I think we're doing a pretty good job of that, just making everybody feel that they're the same and we're all on the same mission."
Another big advantage Benet has this year is size. In addition to Haggerty, Benet has 6-3 Gabby Pethokoukis and 6-1 sophomore Brittany Pavich roaming the middle. Pethokoukis is finally playing regularly after missing most of the season with an injury.
The Redwings exploited their height in their regional victory over West Aurora.
"It's all about matchups," Benet coach Brad Baker said. "Wherever we feel like we have the best advantage, that's where we want to get the ball to. If the other team has small middles and our middles are big, we want to continue to feed them whenever we can.
"Our middles hit a high percentage (against West Aurora) and we're just going to keep going to them until people prove they can stop them," the coach added.
A team to watch in the Andrew sectional is Lincoln-Way Central, which defeated Sandburg in both teams' regular-season finale and ousted East Suburban Catholic Conference co-champion Providence in the regional finals.
Lincoln-Way Central is powered by 5-10 senior outside hitter Danielle Dowd and 5-5 senior libero Val Crilly.
Dowd, who has committed to Ferris State next year, had a team-high 297 kills, 295 digs, 40 aces and 327 good serve receive passes during the regular season. She also had 35 solo blocks and 69 block assists and earned all-tournament honors at Rich East and the Lincoln-Way Central Autumn Knight invite.
Crilly, who is just in her second season playing libero, broke the single season dig record at Lincoln-Way Central for the second consecutive season. Crilly had 440 digs, 13 aces and 26 assists during the regular season, and serves at 91 percent.
No. 6-ranked St. Charles East best beware of crosstown rival St. Charles North in the sectional semifinals Tuesday. The North Stars upset No. 3 seed Glenbard West in the regional finals to advance to Tuesday's semifinal.
St. Charles North trailed Glenbard West 24-22 in Game 3 of their regional showdown before rallying to win 25-22, 24-26, 26-24. The North Stars were led by setter Emily Belz, who dealt 39 assists, and outside hitter Taylor Krage, who had 17 kills and two aces.
Seniors Lauren Madziarczyk, Kim Juriga and Jillian Stolzenburg also chipped in with 11, nine and seven kills, respectively.
Did any team have a bigger turnaround this season than Wheaton Warrenville South?
The Tigers started the season 3-11, but won 13 of their last 21 matches and pushed No. 1-ranked York to the brink in the regional finals.
WW South was led by senior outside hitter Kate Phalen, a four-year varsity and three-year starting performer who was named to the DuPage Valley all-conference team and the all-tournament team at Glenbard East's Autumnfest.
Phalen had 341 kills, 49 aces, 179 digs and 29 blocks for the Tigers.
WW South will look to get off to a better start in 2012 behind a pair of juniors - outside hitter Stephanie Budlong and setter Jessica Bossman. Budlong, an all-conference selection, had 214 kills, 31 aces and 29 blocks for the Tigers, while Bossman had 645 assists, 26 aces and 101 digs.
You would have a hard time convincing Immaculate Conception coach Jean Field that there weren't at least a half-dozen Chicago area regionals that the Knights could have dominated.
Instead, the Knights were sent to Westmont, where they lost 25-23, 25-23 in the regional finals to Timothy Christian.
"You look at some of the other regionals and it makes you sick," she said.
Not all is lost at Immaculate Conception, however. The Knights should return several key players from their 25-11 team in 2012 including sophomore outside hitter Delaney D-Amore, junior setter Liz Martino, junior outside hitter Emily Hartnett and sophomore setter Kim Martino.
Don't be surprised to see defending state champion Chicago Christian and streaking Timothy Christian in the Lisle supersectional on Saturday.
Chicago Christian, which takes a 19-18 record into sectional play, has played perhaps the toughest schedule of any team in Class 2A. They also have four veterans of last year's state title trek -- 6-2 senior Maggie Kamp, 6-1 senior Becky DeRuiter, 5-10 junior Emily Lindemulder and libero Celaine Haan.
Timothy Christian (32-3) will take a 30-match winning streak into sectional play at Winnebago. Leading the way for the Knights are senior middle hitter Makenzie Vos, junior outside Bridgitt Buikema, sophomore setter Jenna Lodewyk and freshman outside hitter Kacie Stoll.
No. 26 Marist is the top-rated Chicago-area teams in the most recent Prepvolleyball.com Century Club national rankings, up from last week's 28th. Other nationally-ranked teams include Benet, York, Edwardsville, Joliet Catholic, Mother McAuley, St. Charles East, St. Francis and Breese Mater Dei.