Crystal Lake Central and Crystal Lake South entered Thursday's Fox Valley Conference crossover battle of first place girls volleyball teams with a combined record of 62-6. Each team won its respective division with perfect 12-0 slates.
So the match up between the area powers seemed set up to be a classic.
Valley champion Crystal Lake South was a little better, knocking off the host Tigers 25-23, 25-21 in 2 games.
South enters postseason play with a 32-3 mark while Central falls to 31-4. The top seeds at next week's Class 4A Dundee-Crown regional could meet for the championship next Thursday.
"They (the Tigers) are a very good team," said Crystal Lake South coach Jorie Fontana. "We had to play well to beat them. We had to make several adjustments during the match. They were returning a lot of our good shots. But give the girls credit. They executed the game plan well and stayed the course. We were mentally tough."
The first game featured 7 lead changes and 6 ties before Sara Mickow's kill broke a 21-21 tie. Scoring the final 4 points of the game, a kill by Bowling Green-bound senior Nicole Slimko gave the Gators a 1-0 lead in the match.
Fox Division champ Central started fast in Game 2, jumping off to a 10-6 advantage after a kill by 4-year starter and University of St. Louis recruit Lauren Leverenz.
The Gators whittled away at Central's advantage and took the lead for good at 16-15 on a kill by Avalon Nero. South's biggest lead was 4, 23-19, after a kill by junior Carly Nolan.
Central got within a point of the Gators, 23-22, on a block Rachael Schoepke. The Tigers didn't get any closer as Nolan closed out Game 2 and the match with a kill off a set from Cassy Sivesand.
Nolan paced the Gators' offensive attack with 8 kills. Mickow and Slimko delivered 6 kills apiece while Nero had 5. Sivesand contributed 25 set assists while Hannah Wilson spearheaded the defensive effort with 10 digs.
"Central is certainly one of the better teams we have played this season," said Nero. "We watched film on them and we were ready to play. We feel good going into the playoffs.''
Leverenz led the Tigers with 19 kills and 7 blocks while Krissy Pratt collected 12 kills and Schoepke had 9 kills.
Natalie Ricca contributed 18 assists for the Tigers.