Girls volleyball/Scouting the Fox Valley postseason
Belvidere North sectional
Regional sites (top seeds): Dundee-Crown (Crystal Lake South), Rockford Jefferson (DeKalb), McHenry (Warren), Harlem (Boylan Catholic)
Pairings: Monday: Match 1: No. 4 Cary-Grove (20-15) vs. No. 5 Jacobs (17-13), 6 p.m.; Match 2: No. 3 Prairie Ridge (20-15) vs. No. 6 Dundee-Crown (16-19), 7 p.m.; Tuesday: Match 3: No. 1 Crystal Lake South (32-3) vs. Winner Match 1, 6 p.m.; No. 2 Crystal Lake Central (31-4) vs. Winner Match 2, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 31: Championship: Winner Match 3 vs. Winner Match 4, 6 p.m.
Outlook: The fact that two 30-win teams from Crystal Lake would meet for the regional title if seeds hold is testament to a laughable IHSA system in which regional assignments are sometimes predetermined based on geography rather than merit. CL South coach Jorie Fontana, whose team didn't lose a set to a Fox Valley Conference Valley Division opponent this season, took the high road even though her team could face 31-win rival CL Central for the second time in a week just to get out of a regional. "I'm trying to put the most positive spin on it I can," Fontana said. "The way I'm going to look at it is this is a tough regional. In no way, shape or form is there a gimme match where you can let your guard down. In the end, that only prepares you better if you advance." The Gators will play the winner between Cary-Grove and Jacobs. The Trojans swept 2 matches from the Golden Eagles, but there is history here. Jacobs won a regional title against the Trojans four years ago on the very same court at Dundee-Crown. "Maybe three times is the charm with Cary-Grove," Jacobs coach Lisa Dwyer said. "We definitely have a chance. We have to play very well. We have to pass against them. They are a tough serving team." Dundee-Crown must find a way to compete with a Prairie Ridge squad that has swept the Chargers twice. "We hope to give them a run for their money," D-C coach Christine Hopkins-Muehl said. "We know the regional is loaded with everyone from the Valley side along with Crystal Lake Central, so we know it's definitely not going to be an easy go. It would be nice to knock somebody out in the first round when they might think it's going to be very easy to knock us out."
Pairings: Monday: Match 1: No. 4 Jefferson vs. No. 5 Rockford East; Tuesday: Match 2: No. 1 DeKalb vs. Winner Match 1, 6 p.m.; Match 3: No. 2 Huntley (22-13) vs. No. 3 Belvidere North; Thursday: Championship: Winner Match 2 vs. Winner Match 3, 6 p.m.
Outlook: The regional championship would be a rematch of last year's final if seeds hold. DeKalb tipped Huntley for the title last season with a tension-filled 26-24, 28-26 victory. Huntley, which finished fourth in the FVC Valley, hopes to reverse that result this time around if the same matchup develops. "We're not looking past Belvidere North because they are a scrappy team," Red Raiders coach Karen Liss said. "If we do play DeKalb, hopefully we've improved enough from last year." The Barbs return six players from last year's regional title team; Huntley returns eight players. "We know what we have to do if we play DeKalb," Liss added. "We have to play consistently and play our game. We've been doing a lot of motivational things in practice and now it's crunch time. This is it."
Advancement: The McHenry and Jefferson regional winners meet in a sectional semifinal on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 6 p.m.; The semifinal between the Harlem and Dundee-Crown winners follows at 7 p.m. Semifinal winners meet for the Belvidere North sectional title on Thursday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.
Regional sites (top seeds): York (No. 3 St. Charles East), South Elgin (No. 2 St. Charles North), Addison Trail (No. 4 Geneva), West Chicago (No. 1 Glenbard West)
Pairings: Monday: Match 1: No. 13 Glenbard East vs. No. 19 Lake Park, 7 p.m.; Tuesday: Match 2: No. 3 St. Charles East vs. Winner Match 1, 6 p.m.; No. 6 York vs. No. 11 Larkin (17-18), 7 p.m.; Thursday: Championship: Winner Match 2 vs. Winner Match 3
Outlook: The Royals hope to upset the Dukes on their home court and advance to a regional final. They were knocked out in a semifinal last season. Larkin is led by 6-foot-1 senior captain Olivia Kofie (Western Michigan). The outside hitter enters the postseason with 298 kills (.249 hitting), 55 aces, 34 blocks and 191 digs. "We haven't seen York so it's tough to gameplan for a team you don't see at all," Larkin coach Henry Graack said. "We've heard they are good and they are tall but they are beatable if we play well." Though she has battled nagging injuries throughout the season, senior Brianna Stewart has contributed 247 kills and 27 aces and leads the Royals with 50 blocks.
South Elgin regional
Pairings: Tuesday: Match 1: Monday: No. 14 Willowbrook vs. No. 18 Fenton, 6 p.m.; Tuesday: Match 2: No. 2 St. Charles North vs. Winner Match 1; No. 7 Wheaton North vs. No. 10 South Elgin (20-12); Thursday: Championship: Winner Match 2 vs. Winner Match 3.
Outlook: The Storm can break the school record for victories set a season ago with a mild upset of the Falcons. South Elgin has been directed for the last few weeks by boys volleyball coach Adam Plach. That's because his wife, girls volleyball coach Joni Plach, was ordered to take it easy after experiencing preterm labor contractions after a match on Sept. 24. Plach is due in December. The Storm attack behind 5-foot-9 senior outside hitter Ashley Oandasan, who is set by senior Adrianna Loiacono. Junior middles Sarah Hallas (6-1) and Alyssa Miner (6-1) present an imposing block. "This team is better skilled than last year's team," Joni Plach said. "It's just a matter of mental toughness. You have to have good mental focus to win in regionals."
Addison Trail regional
Pairings: Monday: Match 1: No. 16 Addison Trail vs. No. 20 Bartlett (6-21-1), 6 p.m.; Match 2: No. 12 Elk Grove vs. No. 21 Elgin (8-26), 7 p.m.; Tuesday: Match 3: No. 4 Geneva vs. Winner Match 1, 6 p.m.; Match 4: No. 5 Batavia vs. Winner Match 2; Thursday: Championship: Winner Match 3 vs. Winner Match 4, 6 p.m.
Outlook: Monday's play-in match is winnable for the Hawks if they can match the home team's intensity. "I'm actually pretty excited about playing Addison Trail because we played them early in the season and we didn't play very well," Bartlett coach Michelle Bickus said. "If we play to our full potential we can match up with them." A win would pit the Hawks against sectional host Geneva. Elgin, led by senior outside hitter Melanie Berg and senior setter Tanya Welch, has already won as many matches as it did the last two seasons combined. Another step in the right direction would be an upset win over Elk Grove. "If we play the way I've seen us play at times, we can handle most teams," Maroons coach Scott Stewart said. "It's just a matter of keeping that together for a full match. Sometimes our Dr. Jekyll team shows up, some times it's Mr. Hyde."
West Chicago regional
Pairings: Monday: Match 1: No. 15 Glenbard North vs. No. 17 Streamwood, 5:30 p.m.; Tuesday: No. Glenbard West vs. Winner Match 1, 6 p.m.; No. 8 Schaumburg vs. No. 9 West Chicago, 7 p.m.; Thursday: Championship: Winner Match 2 vs. Winner Match 3, 6 p.m.
Outlook: The Sabres, led by team captain Hannah McGlone in the middle, will attempt to knock off the Panthers. Their reward would be a date with Glenbard West, the No. 1 seed in the Geneva sectional.
Advancement: The West Chicago and Addison Trail regional winners will meet in a sectional semifinal on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. The semifinal between the South Elgin and York regional winners follows at 7 p.m.; Semifinal winners meet for the Geneva sectional title on Thursday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.
Burlington Central sectional
Regional sites (top seeds): Genoa-Kingston (Burlington Central), Woodstock North (Johnsburg), Lakes (Lakes), Vernon Hills (Regina Dominican)
Pairings: Monday: Match 1: No. 4 Hampshire (11-23) vs. No. 5 Marengo, 7 p.m.; Tuesday: Match 2: No. 1 Burlington Central (24-11) vs. Winner Match 1, 6 p.m.; Match 3: No. 2 St. Edward (18-13) vs. No. 3 Genoa-Kingston; Thursday: Championship: Winner Match 2 vs. Winner Match 3, 6 p.m.
Outlook: If seeds hold, Burlington Central coach Marv Leavitt could face the St. Edward program he led from 1999-2003 for a regional title. Leavitt directed the Green Wave to a 150-50 record, winning two sectional titles and five regionals. Current St. Edward coach Jaime Dovichi followed Leavitt and has since led the program to a pair of state trophies. Like the professional he is, Leavitt is taking the regional bracket one match at a time. "We've beaten both Hampshire and Marengo twice, but Marengo really improved and played us tough last week," Leavitt said. "It's the state tournament, so we'll give every opponent our best shot." The Rockets are led by senior middle hitter Makenna Jensen and senior libero Allie O'Reilly (Illinois-Chicago). Junior outside hitter Lauren Wiltsie returned from injury and helped spark the Rockets to a solid second half of the regular season. St. Edward is led by senior hitters Katie Swanson and Shannon Igielski and senior libero Allison Kruk. The Green Wave players have been focused on refresher drills and day-to-day team building as the playoffs approach. "We've worked on the things we usually need to work on when it comes time for tournament play," Dovichi said. "We're concentrating on serving aggressively and blocking, lots of blocking the last couple of weeks." Hampshire hopes to knock off Marengo, a team it defeated in the Hampshire tournament two weeks ago. "The biggest thing for us is staying positive and playing our game," Hampshire coach Andy Lindley said. "We've seen Marengo before so it will be a challenge for us. We just have to control our side. Our passing needs to be good to do what we want to do."
Advancement: The Woodstock North and Vernon Hills regional winners will meet in a sectional semifinal on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. The semifinal between the Lakes and Genoa-Kingston regional winners follows at 7 p.m.; Semifinal winners meet for the Burlington Central sectional title on Thursday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.
Harvest Christian Academy sectional
Regional sites (top seeds): Harvest Christian (Harvest Christian), Seton Academy (No. 1 Bridgeview Universal), North Shore Country Day (North Shore Country Day), Hinckley-Big Rock (Newark)
Harvest Christian Academy regional
Pairings: Monday: Match 1: No. Hiawatha vs. No. 5 Faith Lutheran, 6 p.m.; Match 2: No. 3 Alden-Hebron vs. No. 6 Elgin Academy, 7 p.m.; Tuesday: Match 3: No. Harvest Christian vs. Winner Match 1, 6 p.m.; Match 4: No. 2 Westminster Christian vs. Winner Match 2, 7 p.m.; Thursday: Championship: Winner Match 3 vs. Winner Match 4, 6 p.m.
Outlook: The Lions hope the third time is the charm. Beaten two years in a row in supersectionals, Harvest Christian was placed in the eastern bracket this postseason as opposed to the western bracket it fought through the last two years. "I like how it's coming down," Lions coach Kim Floyd said of the draw. "It will be fun to see how the girls come together at the end of the season. We played extremely well against 3A and 4A competition last week in a tournament at Bradley-Bourbonnais. We definitely have a goal in mind for the end of the season, but we'll take them one at a time and try to control what we can on our side of the net." Harvest Christian, which entered Saturday's Northeastern Athletic Conference tournament with a 20-10 record, is led by senior outside hitter Sydney Doby. The Grand Valley State recruit enters the postseason with 314 kills (. 436 hitting), 76 aces, 24 blocks, 295 digs and only 26 errors in 314 serve receptions. Westminster Christian is led by junior middle hitter Savannah Dutcher and right side/setter Claire Speweik. Randall Road neighbors Harvest and Westminster seem destined to collide in the final. The Lions swept the Westminster 25-14, 25-18 on Sept. 19.
Advancement: The North Shore Country Day and Seton Academy regional winners will meet in a sectional semifinal on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. The semifinal between the Bridgeview Universal and Hinckley-Big Rock regional winners follows at 7 p.m.; Semifinal winners meet for the Harvest Christian Academy sectional title on Thursday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.
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