GLASFORD, Ill. -- Meredith Siebers thought the Quincy Notre Dame volleyball team was one year away from competing for a state tournament berth.
She and the rest of the Raiders surprised themselves Friday night.
After dropping the first set to defending state champion Eureka, QND rallied to win the last two sets to stun the Hornets 23-25, 25-20, 25-16 in the Class 2A Illini Bluffs Super-sectional to reach the state tournament for the first time since winning the title in 2011.
QND will play Newton in the state semifinals at noon next Friday at Redbird Arena.
"I didn't know we'd go this far at the beginning of the season," Siebers said. "That really didn't come until later in the season."
Even so, QND started four sophomores -- Siebers, outside hitter Sidney Hummert, setter Maddie Peters and outside hitter Taylor Keck -- which cooled expectations this season.
"I don't know if people expected this out of us," senior middle Molly Penn said. "We're really young and have four sophomores starting for us. Not that they aren't any good, we just didn't have the experience."
That didn't keep Hummert from stepping up when QND (32-8) needed it most.
She provided the kill that forced a decisive third set, and she helped the Raiders race to a 6-1 lead in the final set with three kills. A fourth kill pushed QND's lead to 8-3.
"It just kind of worked out that way for me," Hummert said. "The ball was set to me so I just hit it."
That advantage, however, nearly disappeared as Eureka (30-8) whittled the lead down to 9-8 after a kill by outside hitter Hailey Flowers coming out of a QND timeout. The Raiders answered with four straight points, including an ace from Peters, to push the lead back to five.
"All of a sudden our kids relaxed," QND coach Rich Meyer said. "I think they thought they could win at that point. In volleyball, that makes a big difference."
QND's lead grew to 21-11 after another kill by Hummert -- she had nine in the third set alone -- but the Raiders starting getting anxious. After an attacking error by Hummert, Eureka's Courtney Heffren recorded a kill. That was followed by two straight QND attacking errors where the ball wasn't close to being inbounds and trimmed the Raiders' lead to 21-15.
Meyer called a timeout to regroup them.
"They were trying to score four points with one swing," Meyer said. "I told them they had to relax and play real volleyball and make it count."
The Raiders answered with a match-sealing 4-1 run as junior Monica Brown had the final kill.
"This just feels great," Hummert said. "We're only sophomores and we're doing this."
QND had its backs against the wall after falling in the first set, and Eureka led 5-2 in the second set. The Raiders whittled the lead down to 6-5 after a block by Brown, but Eureka pushed the lead back to 8-5 after an error by QND and a kill by Heffren.
QND had another answer and a kill by Keck tied the set at 10. QND took its first lead of the set at 12-11 after a kill by Hummert, and a block by Hummert made it 13-12. The score was tied again at 16 after a block by Eureka's Lauren Ausmus, but Brown answered with a kill and QND didn't trail the rest of the set.
Hummert led QND with 18 kills, while Keck had eight and Penn had seven. Peters dished out 19 assists, while Hannah Peters had 20 digs.