St. Charles North's girls volleyball team relied heavily on a sister act to lead the North Stars to their second consecutive Class 4A regional championship Thursday night.
Junior Taylor Krage and her younger sister Daley combined for 19 kills, including the team's last 8 throw-downs, while helping lift the North Stars (24-13) to a 25-22, 25-19 victory over sixth-seeded Glenbard North in St. Charles.
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"Having those two together on the outside is something really special," North Stars coach Lindsey Hawkins said of the Krage sisters. "It's something I don't think a lot of people get to experience.
"They give each other confidence. The relationship they have off the court is amazing, and it really helps the relationship they have on the court."
Aiming for their first regional title since 1983, the Panthers played the role of spoiler well, grabbing a 22-21 lead in the opening game off of back-to-back kills from junior outside hitter Destiny Wade.
Following a timeout, the North Stars tied the game on an Emily Carroll kill (7 blocks, 5 kills) and took the lead for good on Taylor Krage's powerful putdown after a tough serve from Alex Busch (14 digs).
"I think we had those regional championship game jitters," said Hawkins, who is 2-0 since her return from maternity leave. "They were a little nervous coming out but we talked them through it and calmed them down.
"We said, 'let's play as a family, let's play as one cohesive unit and we'll do this together.'"
In Game 2, St. Charles North went on a 7-1 spurt to turn a slim 11-10 lead into a more comfortable 18-11 advantage.
Taylor Krage (12 kills, 5 blocks) was again in the forefront, recording 4 straight kills during the run.
"We really picked up our energy on the court and on the bench," said the elder Krage. "Everybody was talking about every play."
The North Stars also received solid efforts from Emily Belz (19 assists, 5 kills, 4 aces), Alex Stone (4 blocks, 3 kills, 1 ace), Renee Rhoades (20 digs), and Sydney Wohlert (1 ace).
"We're doing it for all the seniors," said Taylor Krage. "We didn't want it to be the last game we played with Alex (Busch), Alex (Stone), Emily (Belz), Irina (Grauzinis) -- all of them.
"It means a lot to our school and it means a lot to our seniors."
Junior Stephanie Tobison paced the Panthers with 5 kills.
"I was very proud of the way we played," said Glenbard North coach Jeremy Bradley. "We were in both games but we made a couple mistakes at the end and our passing fell apart a little there.
"If a couple things went a different way, it could have been a completely different night," added Bradley. "Overall, I'm extremely proud of the season we had."
With the win, the fourth-seeded North Stars earned a trip to Tuesday's 6 p.m. Larkin sectional semifinal match against top-seeded Glenbard West, which knocked off West Chicago, 25-15, 25-10 Thursday night.
"We know how we have to play and the momentum and energy we have to come with (next week) if we want to continue," said Krage.