Published 12:00 am Friday, October 30, 2009



With Riverside trailing two games to one and holding a late fourth game lead in its match with St. Charles, everyone at the Comets’ gym seemed mentally prepared for yet another match between the two rivals decided by a fifth game tiebreaker.

Everyone, that is, except for the Comets.

St. Charles erased a 23-21 Rebel lead by scoring the final four points of the game, including three kills by senior Meg Gustafson, as SCC wrapped up a 25-19, 21-25, 25-21, 25-23 victory over the Rebels in the final district match for each team this season.

SCC wrapped up second place in District 7-IV (behind champion John Curtis), and with it an automatic playoff berth.

“It’s a great ending for us,” Gustafson said, referring to the fact that the match was the last regular season home date for the team’s seniors. “This is our stomping grounds, we needed to defend it against our rival. We did it tonight.”

Said St. Charles coach Kelly Cupit: “I think they wanted to do it for one another tonight. They felt like they needed to finish it in four games, and we finally did that.”

Riverside now must wait to learn if its power ranking will be enough to earn one of the six wildcard spots not allotted to first or second place district squads.

Finishing strong was the key for SCC – in each of its three wins, the Comets closed out games with a strong surge. Aside from its final game push, the Comets scored the final five points of the first game and six of the last seven in the third.

On SCC’s Senior Night, Gustafson had a monster game for SCC. She totaled 19 kills , five blocks, two aces and 26 digs – all led the Comets. Fellow seniors Kadie Levatino and Courtney Western also shined – Levatino tied Gustafson’s team lead in digs with 26 of her own, while Western had 35 assists.

Shea LaFountain led RA in kills with 18. Shelby Deslatte added 26 digs. Kaitlyn Millet had 12 assists, while Kelsi Roussel added nine and two aces. Taylor Terrio also had two aces.

Riverside led through much of the final game, at one point by as many as six. After Shea LaFountain’s put down a kill to give Riverside a 18-15 lead, SCC scored three straight points off of Rebel errors to tie the game. SCC returned the favor with two errors of its own to give RA a 21-19 lead.

The Comets’ Jaymie Remondet pulled her team within one with a successful spike, and a Rebels’ return into the net tied things again. Riverside’s Kaitlyn Millet tipped home a point to give the Rebels a lead, and a spike attempt too long for SCC made it 23-21.

But then Gustafson went to work. She laid down three kills in a row to put her team ahead. With SCC ahead 24-23, the Comets kept the final point alive in dramatic fashion – three SCC players converged on a ball that looked to be heading out-of-bounds. The Comets’ hustle kept it alive and sent it back over the net. The Rebels couldn’t answer.

“We were very scrappy today. We hadn’t played that way in a long time,” said Cupit. “They just didn’t want to play a fifth game.”

“Everyone just busted their butts,” said Remondet. “We all hustled…we said we weren’t going to let them back in it. We wanted to finish.”

Late in the third game, SCC senior Rachael McNulty was injured with the Rebels leading 18-17.

Instead of becoming deflated over their fallen teammate, the Comets used it as inspiration.

“When Rachael went out, I just told everyone to go all out for her, if not for yourself,” said Gustafson. “She gave us her all, so we wanted to give 100-percent for her.”

The Rebels went ahead 20-19 before SCC kicked it into high gear. Gustafson polished off four of the next five Comet points on kills, giving her team a 24-21 lead.

Remondet finished the match off with a spike after a long volley.

“We had leads in both the third and fourth game, but their big hitter, Number 11 (Gustafson) really stepped up,” said Riverside coach Kristy Hebert. “She put points down when they needed it. They made some little runs that killed us.”

The Comets fought off a major Riverside rally in the first game to preserve a win. After falling behind 19-11, the Rebels came roaring back on an 8-1 run – LaFountain put down three kills and Millet added a kill and an ace – to pull RA within one. But SCC finished with five straight points, including two Remondet kills.

The Rebels did rally from a late 19-15 deficit to capture the second game.

RA scored six straight points, highlighted by a tip and a kill behind Kristy Milioto, to make it 21-19. Millet and Milioto scored on back to back plays to make it 23-20, and the Rebels finished from there.