That’s 18 straight district trophies for Forest Park!

Add one more district trophy to Forest Park’s volleyball display case—their 18th in a row—after a 3-0 win over Wakefield-Marenisco in the finals Nov. 2. The Lady Trojans take part in the Class D regionals at Westwood High School starting Nov. 7.
CRYSTAL FALLS—When Forest Park’s string of district volleyball championships started, nearly all this year’s players hadn’t been born yet. It was almost a different game, played during the winter, with best-of-three matches played to 15 points. You could only win points on serve.
    Lots has happened since the winter of 2000-01, but each year Forest Park’s girls’ team has posed proudly with the district championship trophy. They did that again Nov. 2 after winning the Class D District 127 championship with a 3-0 sweep of Wakefield-Marenisco.
    The team’s overall record now stands at 16-10-7. This week, the team advances to the Class D regionals at Westwood High School.
    While it was FP’s 18th straight district title, it was the first for coach Ana Cornelia, who succeeded Kim Hilberg this fall. There have been some ups and downs, but the team came together when it counted most.
    “It was actually pretty nerve-wracking,” Cornelia said as the girls laughed and took photos of each other with the district trophy nearby. “I’m like, Oh gosh! I was a part of the success of this program back in 2011 and 2010.
    “Look at them. They’re all smiling over there, doing goofy stuff. They have a lot of spirit.”
    “It feels really good,” senior Hannah Cross said, taking a break from the photo shoot. “Eighteen in a row—you don’t hear that anywhere else.”
    At districts, the Lady Trojans didn’t lose a set in two matches. They defeated Bessemer 25-15, 25-19, 25-8 on Nov. 1, and followed that by eliminating Wakefield-Marenisco 25-13, 25-13, 25-18 on Nov. 2.
    Against Bessemer, though, the team started slow, and the Speedgirls held a slim lead for most of the first set—but never by more than two. Finally, FP attacked. Mercedes Simmons’ kill got the side-out, and, with Laina Toivonen on serve, Elle Soderberg put a kill in the back corner and then blocked a Speedgirl shot for a 15-13 FP lead.
    A little later, Avery Sommers served in three (19-14), and Emme Emmers followed with five, including Sydney Honkala’s kill and Cross’ block, to win it 25-15.
    Toivonen’s four-point haul put FP ahead 8-4 in the second set, but Bessemer stayed close and got within 17-15 late in the second rotation. Taylor Honkala’s cross-court kill got the serve back, and Sommers struck for another five, helped by Simmons’ two kills and a block. That made it 23-15, on the way to a 25-19 win.

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