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updated: 10/31/2013 9:07 PM

Crystal Lake South breezes to regional crown

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By Dave Hess
Daily Herald Correspondent

Crystal Lake South's girls volleyball team had absolutely no interest in playing a third game.

After winning the first game 25-14, the Gators trailed rival Crystal Lake Central 19-8 in the second game and a third game seemed inevitable.

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But, keyed by a 12-2 run, top-seeded South rallied to win the second game 25-23 and the Class 4A Dundee-Crown regional championship over second-seeded Crystal Lake Central Thursday night in Carpentersville.

The Gators (34-3), who won the 18th regional title in program history and first since 2009, advance to the Belvidere North sectional to play Rockford Boylan Tuesday at 7 p.m. Boylan defeated Hononegah 29-27, 25-22 to win the Harlem regional.

"Even when we were down we knew we would come back and win the second game," said South junior standout Carly Nolan. "Coach (Jorie Fontana) gave a great speech in the timeout and we played with a lot of confidence the rest of the game."

Down by 11, the Gators whittled away at the lead with 5 straight points led by 2 kills each by Nicole Slimko and Nolan to cut the Tigers' lead to 6, 19-13.

South kept climbing back and took its first lead of game at 24-23 on an ace by Avalon Nero. The Gators claimed the game, the match and the regional championship on a resounding kill by Nolan off a perfect set by Cassie Sivesind.

The Gators avenged last year's gut-wrenching regional championship match loss to Prairie Ridge.

"We didn't really talk about last year but I knew it was in the back of their minds," said Fontana. "Winning the regional was certainly one of our major goals. I told the girls in the timeout we could win this game. We didn't want to go to a third game. We won as a team, I am so happy for the girls. This is exciting."

Nolan paced the Gators' offensive attack with 10 kills, 3 blocks and 2 aces. Slimko delivered 6 kills with 6 blocks while Nero added 5 kills with 4 crucial aces.

"I am at a loss for words," said Slimko. "I can't describe how I feel. Last year's loss to Prairie Ridge was so disappointing. This is so exciting. We came back and won the second game as a team. We played with so much energy."

Lauren Leverenz paced the Tigers (32-4) with 15 kills while Krissy Pratt collected 11 kills.

"South is a phenomenal team," said Central coach Lisa Reddish. "They are so aggressive and strong. We played so well in the second game, got the big lead and we got tentative at the end."

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