Central wins Grayslake battle
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On rivalry night in Grayslake, one team (Central) came in with 4 losses.
Home-standing North stood with 4 victories to its name.
Again, throw out the records when these teams show up to play.
"It was nerves,'' said slugging Central hitter Alex Dahlstrom. "I was so nervous sitting on the bench."
And it showed early as the underdog Knights (4-11) stormed to a quick 16-9 lead in set one on Tuesday night. No matter, Dahlstrom registered her 100th kill of the season in the Rams' 25-23, 25-20 road win.
"We've been struggling with slow starts,'' said Central coach Jason Janczak. "And North was playing scrappy defense and serving aggressively. I told our girls that this will be the last time they will be on North's court. How did they want to be remembered?"
That big lead North had in set one was helped along by a pair of kills from sophomore Kendall Buckman. Maggie Fish added another one as it looked like the Knights might pull off the upset.
Seemingly as quickly as North (4-11) built up the lead, Central (10-4) stormed back immediately. Anna Basten had a kill as the North lead shrunk to 17-14.
It was late in set one when Dahlstrom began to assert herself as the game's top hitter. She whistled 8 kills by the Knights.
"It's been phenomenal how much she (Dahlstrom) has grown,'' said fellow senior Gabi Casper.
Dahlstrom wasn't quite ready to brag about her skills. She quickly gave credit to other sources.
"Sometimes, it's luck,'' Dahlstrom said. "I've had strong coaches. People have really helped me."
The first-set comeback was helped along when Basten went into serve for Central. She had plenty of help from Lexi Beckman and Dahlstrom.
Even in set two, the Rams couldn't quite put the Knights away.
"We played much better today than we did Saturday against Central,'' noted North coach Nikki Kirchway. "But we are still working on our mental toughness."
North had 15 digs from Nicole LeBaron.
The Knights never led in set two but clearly made the Rams uncomfortable. With tall Alaina Geissberger serving for North, two Rams mistakes cut Central's lead to 17-16. That's as close as North would come.
For Central, meanwhile, the beat goes on.
"This could be our best year,'' Casper said. "We have a strong team that knows how to work hard."
Dahlstrom is ready to see her team succeed.
"It's my final season,'' she said. "Our season so far is great."
Dahlstrom led all hitters with her 8 kills. Casper led the Rams defense with 9 digs and setter Hayley Peterson notched 14 assists.
North had blocking help from Geissberger (4 blocks). Buckman checked in with 4 kills.
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