Even before Lisa Buehler dished a deliciously good pancake dig, Lakes volleyball coach Katie Cheek was flipping with joy.
Cheek had seen during tryouts Buehler's potential for defensive prowess, so she switched the junior from setter to defensive specialist.
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"In practice, everyone is like, 'Lisa!' " Cheek said. "They just scream her name because she gets everything. It's so awesome. She's such an athlete."
And a team player.
This Buehler doesn't take a day off.
"I like playing everywhere," the 5-foot-3 Buehler said. "Defense is a lot of fun."
Winning is equally thrilling.
Buehler's defense and sophomore Megan Behrendt's 10 kills helped Lakes down visiting Wauconda 25-17, 25-12 Wednesday night. The win kept the Eagles (18-4, 5-0) perfect in North Suburban Conference Prairie Division play heading into Friday night's showdown against Antioch in Lake Villa. Both teams are undefeated in the division. The victor will host NSC Lake champ Lake Zurich in next Wednesday's NSC title match.
Lakes has defeated Antioch three times in as many meetings this season. Such a large crowd is expected Friday that the bleachers on both sides will be out.
"They played so well," Cheek of her players after their performance against Wauconda. "It's exciting to watch them."
Wauconda (15-11, 2-3), which could see Lakes again in the Lakes regional semifinals, has played the last couple of weeks without 6-foot-2 sophomore middle Sara Sexton. Without her, not coincidentally, the Bulldogs have struggled.
"She's a big part of our offense," said coach Alison Williams, who isn't sure if Sexton will be back this season. "It helps having a middle option because it opens our outsides and right sides."
After overcoming a 6-2 deficit in the opening set thanks, in part, to Haley Halberg serving 4 consecutive aces, Lakes dominated the second set.
The Eagles were up 17-8 when Buehler left her feet, crashed to the court, extended her fingers and popped the ball up, saving it to a teammate. A few hits later, Behrendt finished an attack at the net.
"I didn't think I was actually going to get there," Buehler said. "I just dove for the ball, and I got it up. I was happy my team was there to help me out."
Buehler did not have a pancake dig this season, she said.
"That's because she always gets her feet there," Cheek said. "She just runs through and pops it up perfectly."
Behrendt led Lakes in digs with 12. Buehler -- who substitutes in the back row for her junior sister Abbey -- and libero Morgan Phillips each tallied 9 digs, and McKenna Lahr had eight.
Sophomore setter Maddie Demo dished out 20 assists and served 3 aces.
Lahr, a 5-foot-10 freshman, slammed 7 kills. She hammered home the final point of the match. Abbey Buehler and Allie Grandos chipped in 3 kills apiece.
After the match, the Eagles scattered quickly, as many players have AP tests today.
"I couldn't ask for better girls," said Cheek, the first-year head coach. "They're such good kids, on the court and off the court. It's fun to be around them. I love winning. They love winning."
Susan Karhoff had 6 kills and 11 digs for Wauconda, which visits North Chicago in its NSC Prairie finale Friday night. LeAnne Sakowicz added 5 kills, 9 digs and an ace, while Lauren Nee chipped in 8 digs.
"We just have to pass better, plain and simple," Williams said. "We can't run (the offense) if we can't pass. Our passing was not the best tonight."