The Commercial-News, Danville, IL


October 25, 2012

Hilltoppers to return home

MILFORD —  All Schlarman Academy senior Ella Black wanted was another chance to play on her home court. The Hilltoppers outside hitter celebrated Senior Night on Oct. 16 with a win over Milford, and though she was the team’s lone senior, the night wasn’t simply brushed away as insignificant. She had the full support of her teammates.

The team had plenty of confidence, as well, realizing that if it got through the regional, they would be hosting a Class 1A sectional.

“On Senior Night, we all talked about how this wasn’t going to be her last home game because we were going to be there again,” Schlarman Academy junior Jordan Marganski said.

And Marganski and the Hilltoppers followed through with their promise by defeating the top-seeded Cissna Park Timberwolves 2-1 (25-7, 22-25, 25-20) to take home the program’s first regional championship since 2009, and third in the last five years.

Schlarman’s 2009 regional title was Black’s freshman year, and coach Heidi Crane’s first year in charge of the Hilltoppers.

“I wasn’t thinking about it too much during the game, but after the game, I was really, really, excited,” Black said of the opportunity to play again on her home court.

“It feels really good (to win the regional) because I’m a senior and this is my last year. I think we all just really want it. We’ve all worked really hard for this. We play with a lot of heart, and I think we have so much potential.”

The Hilltoppers showed their potential in the first set when they took a commanding lead and never looked back. Schlarman Academy gained serve by tying the set at 4-4, and sophomore Joslyn Dietzen served the Hilltoppers to six consecutive points. Then, at 11-5, Marganski stepped to the line for six more points before Black closed out the set with seven of her match-high 12 service points.

Black also had eight kills and five digs, while Marganski finished with nine kills, 20 assists, and four blocks. Sophomore Laura Gross had 16 assists, 12 kills, and eight blocks, and Janelle Marion put down seven kills. But it was freshman Sierra Bell, who had a match high 12 digs, that ultimately caught the attention of Crane.

“I think Sierra really stepped up,” Crane said. “This could be a game where a freshman in the back row could have a little bit of an issue, but she was right there for every single hit. She pushed on through.”

Despite the impressive first-set win, defense — and aggressive play — proved to be key later in the match as the Hilltoppers dropped the second set and trailed the entire set after going down 5-4.

More uncertainty loomed in the third as Cissna Park never backed off. The Timberwolves held a steady advantage throughout the set and never showed signs of permanently surrendering the lead until the Hilltoppers gained a 16-15 advantage on a kill by Black. It was the first of back-to-back kills by the Schlarman Academy senior, and was a pair of much-needed hits that sparked the Hilltoppers.

“I think we just realized that we had to dig down deep and push through, even though it was just really back and forth with both teams,” Black said. “We just pushed in that last game. We really wanted it, and we played with a lot of heart.”

It was only the third time this season that the Hilltoppers (27-5) battled back to win a three-set match.

Though she admitted there were moments in the match that got a little “scary,” Crane never doubted her team’s ability to work through the adversity of falling behind.

“Deep down I knew this shouldn’t have been the end of the season tonight,” Crane said. “They are very strong. I don’t think we came out and played like we did Tuesday (in the semifinal). They’ve got strengths. I don’t think we had everybody on fire like we did on Tuesday. But, we’re trying to push through. I think they’re starting to realize their potential.”

The Hilltoppers look forward to continuing to show their potential on Tuesday when they take on LeRoy in one of two Schlarman Academy Sectional semifinal matches. LeRoy advanced by defeating DeLand-Weldon 25-13, 25-11 to secure the program’s first-ever regional title.

A win on Tuesday would advance Schlarman Academy to the sectional title match against the winner of Grant Park and Streator (Woodland). The Hilltoppers’ last sectional championship came in 2006 when they eventually saw their season come to an end in the state quarterfinals.

“It just feels really good,” Black said. “It’s so exciting. I think we have a really good chance to go really far, and I believe in us.”

Tuesday’s match against LeRoy is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., immediately following the first semifinal set for a 6 p.m. start.

Text Only
  • SPT - CN0423 - Danville girls track photo 1 Record-setting day for Hall DANVILLE -- Athletes, coaches and fans were all giving advice to Danville sophomore Imani Hall in the high jump. While she appreciated the encouragement, Hall just focused on what she had been doing in practice for the past few weeks and it worked. H

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0423 - Danville baseball photo Vikings no match for Tigers, loss 11-3 DANVILLE -- Urbana came a calling on Danville at Danville Stadium for a Big 12 Conference game with its ace Conner Gremar (Parkland College recruit) on the mound. The Tigers also brought their hitting sticks with them to defeat Danville 11-3. Danvill

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT-CN0423 - Seeger softball photo 1 Patriots take over in sixth, beat Mustangs WEST LEBANON, Ind. - Seeger hosted Fountain Central in softball and the lead went back and forth through much of the game. All that changed in the sixth inning when the Patriots sent 11 batters to the plate and scored a half-dozen runs on seven hits

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vikings softball easily cruises past Chargers DANVILLE -- Alissa Peelman overcame a tough start and hit a home run as the Danville softball team beat Champaign Centennial 12-2 in Big 12 conference action on Tuesday. Peelman gave up both of the Chargers' runs in the first inning but only gave up

    April 23, 2014

  • SPT - CN0422 - Salt Fork SB photo secondary Storm cruise past Cornjerkers CATLIN -- On a windy and drizzly afternoon in Catlin, two teams with a combined 16 wins and one loss met up in what seemed to be on paper a heavy weight fight in Vermilion Valley Conference play. The Salt Fork Storm came out of the gates strong and b

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0422 - Local roundup photo LOCAL ROUNDUP: Cox tosses no-hitter for Westville DANVILLE -- Westville right-hander Tanner Cox was in total control on Monday against the Schlarman Academy Hilltoppers at Danville Stadium. Cox tossed a five-inning perfect game, striking out 11 of the 15 batters he faced as the Tigers defeated the H

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local Sports Schedule TUESDAY Prep Baseball Fountain Central at Seeger, 3:30 p.m. Turkey Run at Covington, 4 p.m. Heritage at Schlarman Academy, 4:30 p.m. Hoopeston Area at Milford, 4:30 p.m. Urbana at Danville, 4:30 p.m. Prep Softball Fountain Central at Seeger, 3:30 p.m

    April 22, 2014

  • No Headline Provided PREP BASEBALL At Bismarck Oakwood 12, Bismarck-Henning 1 Oakwood 213 121 2 -- 12 16 0 Bismarck-Henning 000 100 0 -- 1 4 4 WP -- Taylor Turner. LP -- Strawser. 2B -- Turner, Slade. RBIs -- Landon Turner 2, Slade 2, Anderson 2, Girton, Vinson, Abbott.

    April 22, 2014

  • SPT- CN0420 - Danville baseball photo 1 Vikings continue to learn Vikings continue to learn BY AARON PATTERSON

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT- CN0420- NV Softball photo 2 The Mustangs, Falcons split twinbill VEEDERSBURG, Ind. - Too many mistakes cost the Fountain Central softball team any chance of defeating North Vermillion in the first game of their double header. At least that is how Mustang head coach Allison Alexander saw the game. "We had nine erro

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

NJCAA Tourney Photos 2014

Check out the action at the NJCAA Division II National Men's Basketball Tournament March 18-22 at DACC. Buy photos from the Commercial-News here:

Must Read
AP Video
Raw: Kangaroo Rescued From Swimming Pool Raw: 3 American Doctors Killed in Afghanistan Raw: Obama Arrives at State Dinner in Tokyo Raw: Obama Plays Soccer With Japanese Robot Raw: Obama Visits Meiji Shrine in Tokyo Stars Talk Guns N' Roses at Golden Gods New Pictures of Ship That Sank in 1888 Oregon Gay Marriage Ban Goes to Court SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye'
NDN Video
BASE Jumpers Set World Record Raw: Obama Plays Soccer With Japanese Robot Screaming 2-year-old gets psyched at Penguins game Beyonce on Her Biggest Influence Michael Strahan's First Day on "GMA" Clerk catches on fire after man throws Molotov Cocktail into Brooklyn store Amazon's Deal With HBO Leapfrogs Streaming Rivals Stephen Colbert Tells David Letterman His Plan for 'Late Show' Georgetown police officer filmed tripping students Viral: It's Not Pitbull - It's Amy Poehler! Recycling Highlights for Earth Day Lupita Nyong'o Named People's 'Most Beautiful' Peeps Launched into Outer Space NYPD's Twitter Request For Photos Backfires New HBO Go Commercials Capture Awkward Family TV Watching Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Rise of the Milkbots Jenna Dewan-Tatum Strips Down TRENDING: Brian Williams Raps 'Gin and Juice' on ‘Tonight Show’ Middle School heroes rescue students from burning bus