PANA — Okaw Valley made program history Friday as the Timberwolves not only won their first-ever match in the Illinois Elementary School Association Class 1A eighth-grade state volleyball tournament, but also assured itself of a trophy. They reached the final four with a 25-19, 25-21 win over St. Mary's of Pontiac in the quarterfinals. St. Mary's was 23-1.
Okaw Valley, the second seed in the Oakland regional, is now 17-3 and is to play Peoria Limestone Walters, a 25-14, 22-25, 25-20 winner over Morrisonville. Walters is 16-5 and the match is set for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Pana.
Okaw Valley had 12 aces in the match Thursday with five by Avery Bruns, three by Karson Park and one each by Bailey Bennett, Reagan Reedy, Abbey Luckenbill and Lexi Bartimus.
If Okaw Valley wins Saturday at 11 a.m. they play for the championship at 3:15 p.m. and a loss puts the Timberwolves in the 2 p.m. third-place match. The last time Okaw valley has earned a state trophy was in 2013 when the baseball team earned third place in the Class 1A (seventh and eighth grade combined).
The other semifinals will be Hartsburg-Emden (23-2) against the winner of the Ottawa Marquette vs. Royal Prairieview Ogden game.
TOLONO — Shelbyville lost a three-set match to Beecher in the Class 3A quarterfinals 23-25, 26-24, 25-21.
Mallory Holland had a team-high three aces, while Gracee Tucker and Mia Wade had two each. Carli Canada and Gabriella Cutler had one ace each for the Rams, who finished with a 22-3 record.