It just didn’t seem fair. Every local girls basketball fan was looking forward to this game. It pitted unbeaten Stevenson and 25-game winner in a sectional contest.
But there was a nasty rumor floating around in the winter of 1994. Somehow gifted Libertyville forward Lindsey Celba had come up limp. There was a good chance she wouldn’t play in the biggest game of the season.
Celba married former Lake Forest volleyball player Paul White and now has daughter Molly, 5, and sons John, 3 and Andrew, 1. Although it’s now 17 years ago, she recalled vividly how much her ankle was hurting her.
“I remember it was killing me,” Celba White said. “But this was a huge rivalry game.”
Celba stuns Stevenson
From his home in Arizona, retired girls basketball coach Tom Murphy recalled this classic game.
“The day before the Stevenson game Lindsey injured her ankle,” Murphy said. “I requested that our trainer travel with the team to primarily care for Lindsey. We decided not to play Lindsey in the first half, and if we were in the game to see if she could play in the second half.”
Celba rose to play in the second half and Libertyville stunned Stevenson to end their perfect season.
“I forgot about the pain,” she said. “This was more about beating Stevenson.”
That senior season of Celba White was something special. She played an outside hitter on a volleyball squad that won 36 games in a row.
“I remember that she was a tremendous athlete and a fierce competitor,” Colton said. “I was very happy to have her as a teammate — fighting on the same side of the net with me. Athletically things came easy to her. She was a very good player.”
Celba White notes she didn’t hook up with volleyball until high school. Growing up she dabbled in other sports.
“My dad didn’t have any boys,” Celba White said. “So, I played soccer with boys and tee-ball with boys.”
Varsity player in three sports
She took volleyball, basketball and softball to high school. By her sophomore season, she was a varsity player in all three sports. She still took time getting adjusted to life on the volleyball court.
“I was still pretty fresh to the sport,” she said. “It was very intimidating with the senior girls.
She did play on the best Libertyville volleyball team ever in the fall of 1993.
“We really had a big team,” Celba said. “And Arian (Colton) was great. It was really a great team.”
And then Carmel pulled off the great upset in the regional and ended the 36-game winning streak.
“It was horrible,” she said. “I wanted a redo. I wasn’t happy, but I’m sure I had basketball practice the next day.”
Reached basketball supersectional
That basketball team won 26 games. The Wildcats reached supersectional before falling to eventual state champion Glenbrook South.
“Lindsey was a top-notch high school athlete outstanding in three sports,” Murphy noted. “She had a complete game and was extremely physical, coachable and competitive.”
Knocking off state power Stevenson was surely a highlight of her senior season.
“That was really special,” she said.
Won 27 softball games in a row
Next up for Celba was softball. This was one sport in which she really dominated at times. She could really pound a softball. This squad caught fire and won 27 games in a row.
“I think softball got the least amount of attention,” she said. “I had always played softball.”
Despite winning 90 games in her senior season, none of the Libertyville teams made a state appearance.
Finally makes state appearance
She did reach that goal in her one year as boys volleyball coach at Stevenson.
“Once I had been a coach, I really appreciated what my varsity coaches did for me.”
Celba played for coach Chris Trzyna in volleyball, Murphy in basketball and Bob Fox in softball.
Celba took volleyball to college at Eastern Illinois University. On Sept. 21, 1996, she practically took apart Murray State University by herself. She set a EIU school record with 14 blocks.