ROCKFORD -- Huntley couldn't prevent Courtney Bemis from taking over. DeKalb's 6-foot-2 junior dominated the outside with 13 kills as the Barbs scrapped past the Red Raiders, 26-24, 28-26, to win the Class 4A Rockford East girls volleyball regional Thursday night.
Third-seeded Huntley opened up a 20-12 lead in Game 2, but the Barbs roared back behind Bemis' hitting and the blocking of Alexis Hammond and Courtney Wagner. DeKalb (29-9) scored 8 straight points to tie the game. The teams basically traded points until a Huntley error opened the door at 27-26, and on the next play, Bemis slammed down the winner.
"We knew that we had to end and execute before 18 (Bemis) got to the front row," said Huntley coach Karen Liss. "We had a couple of opportunities where we couldn't put it away. We've got to give them credit. They played phenomenal defense.
"Our serve-receive broke down for 1 or 2 points, and that's all it took to change momentum and get her back in the front row."
Erin Lyman led Huntley with 8 kills. Hailey Vitacco added 7 and Emily Westermeyer 6 for the Red Raiders (15-20).
It was a dogfight from the beginning, and even the winners looked exhausted.
"We fought really hard tonight," said DeKalb coach Ben Fisher. "We blocked the ball very well. I just though defensively we were very strong.
"I've been asking them all season to do this: to fight and to claw their way through matches and to give everything they have all the time, and the only way we were going to win tonight was if we did that, because Huntley played very, very well tonight."
Neither team could gain momentum in the first game. The Barbs led by between 1 and 4 points the entire way until a late Huntley run. The Raiders tried to go up the middle early, but kept running into the Barbs' blockers. Eventually, Huntley started to go outside, and the Red Raiders scored 4 straight points to take their first lead at 23-21. But DeKalb fought back, going ahead 25-24 on a Bemis kill and winning on a Huntley error.
The first game featured 30 service rotations.
In the second game, the Raiders jumped ahead with Rachel Shores serving. Wagner delivered 3 straight blocks to tie it at 9-9, but Brittney Gundlach returned the favor, giving Huntley the serve. Shores served 5 straight points, including an ace, to build the lead back to 19-11.
DeKalb will take on Rockford Boylan in the 7 p.m. sectional semifinal at Jacobs Tuesday night.