FARMINGTON — Set to continue her volleyball career at Illinois State University, Orion's Sarah Jacobsen had visions of playing at Redbird Arena before putting on a collegiate uniform.

Fueled by Jacobsen and fellow senior outside hitter Mackenzie Grafton, the Chargers struck the opening blow in Friday's Class 2A Farmington Super-Sectional match with Decatur St. Teresa, with a late 7-0 run enabling them to win the first set.

"After that first game, I felt so giddy," said Jacobsen. "The team was playing amazing. It was pure happiness. We were so excited to go into the next game."

Unfortunately for Jacobsen, Grafton and their Charger teammates, that happiness turned sour. After a 9-0 mid-game run enabled the Bulldogs to take the second set, St. Teresa did not relinquish that momentum as it rallied for a 19-25, 25-19, 25-14 victory to end a strong season for Orion at 37-2.

"Even though it didn't happen, I'm so proud of this team," said Jacobsen, who finished with match highs of 16 kills and 13 digs. "Even with (St. Teresa) coming from a bigger city, we came out with the same amount of power, which was really great to see. It makes you even more proud to come from Orion."

However, Orion coach Jack Wheeler was less than thrilled with the evening's outcome after his club had its 29-match winning streak stopped a win shy of the 2A state semifinals in Normal.

"This is a once in a generation team we had," he said. "I'm upset for our kids, having to play a team from a city of (over 72,000). It's just wrong. I won't deny it, though; we got outplayed in the second and third sets. It's that simple."

But after scoring seven straight to erase a three-point deficit and take a 20-16 lead in the first set, a lead they maintained down the stretch, the Chargers looked primed to slay Goliath.

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After Orion got up 7-5 early in the second set, St. Teresa (35-5) reeled off nine straight points and eventually worked its way to a 22-12 lead. Senior Abby Robinson had eight service points and three of her four aces during that run.

"That service run got our momentum going for the rest of the match," said Robinson, who also had seven kills and two blocks.

The Chargers finished the second set strong, at one point closing the gap to 23-19 on a kill by Grafton. Even though it could not finish the rally, Orion believed it was ready to reset and return to its first-set form in the third and final set.

"We never gave up, which is what I love about this team," said Grafton (12 digs, eight kills, three blocks). "I thought we carried a little momentum into the third game. Both of us are good teams, but they came out and performed better."

Indeed, the Bulldogs broke an early 3-3 tie in the final set by scoring six of the next seven points. That helped build a 12-5 lead en route to opening a double-digit lead and never looking back as it booked a spot in next Friday's 1:30 p.m. semifinal against Rockford Lutheran (35-5).

"We got a little momentum in the second game after coming out cold, and we carried it into the third set," said St. Teresa's Lexie Huck (16 assists, nine kills). "Orion is a very good team, so we knew we had to come out strong."

For Orion's five seniors, they now pass the torch to a solid underclass group, which includes juniors Ashley Awbrey (10 assists), Riley Filler (five blocks), Hailey James (three blocks, two kills) and Kati Kratzberg (13 digs).

"We were hard on our underclassmen this year, pushing them hard to do their best," said Jacobsen. "I'm looking forward to see what they can do next year."

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