The intensity and effort were evident.
Unfortunately for Cary-Grove when the last volleyball was spiked the Trojans didn't have the results they were looking for.
Prairie Ridge clinched a share of the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division title with Crystal Lake South at 11-1 by defeating the upset-minded Trojans 23-25, 25-22, 25-20 Thursday night in Crystal Lake.
"The girls always give great effort," said Cary-Grove coach Patty Langanis, "I don't ever have to worry about that. We had too many breakdowns and missed serves in the last two games. We seemed to have the momentum after the first game but we didn't capitalize on their mistakes."
With 9 lead changes in the first game, the Trojans grabbed the lead for good, 21-20, on an ace from Mallory Wilczynski. Cary-Grove grabbed a 1-0 lead in the match on a game-deciding kill by Alex Larsen.
But the determined Wolves, who were playing without senior standout hitter-setter Caitlin Brauneis (high ankle sprain), were the aggressor in Game 2.
Paced by 2 kills each from Mackenzie Humm, Maddie Drain and Kennedy McNeil the Wolves (26-9 overall) leapt to an early 6-1 lead. PR extended its advantage to 9, 14-5, on a kill by Humm. But the Trojans didn't cave in and climbed to within 2, 23-21, on a kill by freshman Ally Vasquez. The Wolves tied the match at 1 on a kill by Drain.
PR dominated Game 3 by cruising to a 20-7 lead after an ace by Humm. Similar to the second game, the Trojans battled back in Game 3 and got to within 3 of the Wolves at 23-20 after a kill by Larsen. Prairie Ridge scored the final 2 points on kills by Kayla Carpentier to win the game and match.
Humm (25 assists) and McNeil led PR with 12 kills apiece while Drain and Carpentier collected 10 kills each.
"In the last two games, we started blocking better, our shot selection was better and we were more consistent with our sets," said Prairie Ridge coach Stefanie Otto. "The kids really stepped up without Caitlin. It is nice to be conference champions."
Larsen paced the Trojans with 14 kills and 4 blocks.
"Alex played great," said Langanis. "She was unstoppable at times. We needed to set her more."
Vasquez aided Larsen with 8 kills and 3 aces. Senior setter Jess Bartczyszn collected 27 assists while Micah Duzey had 20 digs.