West Aurora's volleyball team doesn't normally head off its court and into the hallway after the first game, but the Blackhawks also don't typically get smoked like they did by Naperville North Thursday night.
The Blackhawks looked like a different team when they returned to the court in their 12-25, 25-19, 25-12 victory that keeps them on track to repeat their DuPage Valley Conference title.
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Coach Kari Nicholson and senior captain Lauren Carlini did most of the talking after that dreadful start.
"We had a little bit of jitterbugs we had to get out," Carlini said. "I just brought everyone together and said, 'We're not losing at home, that's our motto this year. To win conference we need to win this game.' Everyone got their stuff together and we were going to win this game no matter what.
"(Coach said) get it together, we're so much better than this, we just have to control our side of the net and not worry about what they were doing."
West Aurora (25-3, 11-1) can clinch no worse than a share of the championship by beating West Chicago and Glenbard East next week. Naperville North (19-8, 9-3) could help the Blackhawks win outright if it upsets Naperville Central on Tuesday.
"The first game wherever we hit Naperville North was there and I think we found the holes in the second and third game," Nicholson said. "Naperville North is a tough team."
The Huskies capitalized on 8 West Aurora hitting errors in Game 1 -- the Blackhawks missed just three more in games two and three combined.
Naperville North, meanwhile, was nearly flawless in the opener with just one hitting error. Corinne Gajcak and Megan Wernette led the offense with 3 kills each.
"I think the first game was definitely our best game of the season," Huskies coach Jennifer Urban said. "On our side it was really clean ball control and a fast offense. Second and third game West Aurora had very few errors. We played hard but made too many errors in the end."
The Huskies and Blackhawks were tied 12 times in Game 2, the final one at 18-18. Carlini set Kaitlyn Richter for a kill to put the Blackhawks up 19-18 and start a closing 7-1 run with Demi Heiss acing the Huskies on game point.
West Aurora jumped to an early 4-1 lead in Game 3. After the Huskies were able to side out on Carlini's first serve attempt in both of the first two games, they couldn't stop the Wiconsin-bound senior from going on two big sprees in the third game.
The first came with West Aurora up 6-4 and five laser jump serves later it was an 11-4 lead. On her next turn Carlini turned an 18-11 advantage into 24-11 with a run that included three aces. She ended up serving 11 of West Aurora's 25 points.
"She got on a couple really strong runs," Urban said. "When we would pass well we wouldn't finish the play hitting wise and vice versa. We couldn't find that steady play during Game 3. But we took a step in the right direction despite the score in the third game."
Gajcak had 12 kills and Wernette 7 for the Huskies who also got 28 assists from Emily Kwak, 13 digs by Colleen Larson and 10 digs from Ellie Ivancich.
West Aurora, which will play Rockton Hononegah and Loyola at the Autumnfest tournament Friday before possibly seeing Joliet Catholic, Naperville Central or Benet among others Saturday, was led by Carlini's 18 assists, 10 kills and 4 blocks, Richter's 9 kills, 8 kills from Peyton McKenzie, 12 assists by Ellie Martin and 4 blocks by Abriya Zeitz.