Prairie Ridge senior Caitlin Brauneis is headed East for her college volleyball career. She will play next at Georgetown University in the Washington D.C.
And the Hoyas are getting quite a versatile player. She can certainly hit the ball hard for the Wolves, as her 10 kills were key in a 23-25, 25-21, 25-23 win over Lake Zurich on Tuesday night.
But she's also listed as a setter on the team's roster.
"I set in club but I'm a hitter here," Brauneis said. "We played well tonight. We had so much energy."
In this very tight match, the visiting Wolves were playing their first match of the season. This was Lake Zurich's third match.
For the hometown Bears, it was time for coach Matt Aiello to break the bad news to his team.
Senior middle Amelia Leng will be lost for the season following a knee injury sustained on opening night.
"I was very worried about our team," Aiello said. "We'll be fine, but to take Amelia's presence off the court, especially on a night like this, hurt us. Now we are down to two seniors on the court."
All three sets were tightly contested. Despite the loss of Leng, the Bears hung in with help from middle blocker Layne Self (15 kills, 4 blocks).
"We had trouble shutting her down," Brauneis said.
A Self block kill in Set 1 gave the Bears (1-2) an 11-9 lead. And a serving ace from this Rhode Island University-bound senior closed Set 1 in Lake Zurich's favor.
"We had 38 kills," Aiello said. "We just have to pass the ball better. We had so many errors."
Prairie Ridge used an ace from Brauneis to open an 8-4 lead in set two. Lake Zurich pulled within 23-20, but that's as close as the Bears would come.
Wolves coach Stephanie Otto wasn't especially thrilled with her team's play either.
"I liked parts of it," Otto said. "We always play good games with Lake Zurich. And it's been a couple years since we've beaten them."
The Wolves were hurt by four overlapping calls, and that surprised Otto. But in the final set, her team made the first move. With senior Paige Dacanay serving, Prairie Ridge opened a 6-3 lead. The Wolves also received 2 blocks from 6-foot-3 middle Maddie Drain. She finished with 8 blocks on the night.
Again the work at the net by Self helped knot this set up at 20-20. With the score tied at 22-22, libero Dacanay moved to the serving line. The Wolves surged behind kills from Drain and Brauneis.
"Paige was our defensive specialist last year," Brauneis said. "She's so energetic."
The winners had help on offense from Drain and Taylor Ott, both of whom had 5 kills. Dacanay led the defense with 10 digs. Nicole Kirchberg added 9 digs. Setter Mackenzi Humm had 17 assists.
Aiding Lake Zurich was junior Mallory Parsons, who had 12 kills. Nicole Morrissey added 6 kills.
Bears setter Kristen Walding notched 38 assists, while Kiley McPeek led the defense with 12 digs. Also helping on defense were Walding (10 digs), Ashley Dina (9 digs) and Self (5 digs).