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updated: 9/13/2017 8:57 PM

Girls volleyball: Undefeated Huntley won't be left behind

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  • Huntley's Loren Alberts and Emma Konie defend against Hampshire's Lucy Magnussen last week in Huntley.

      Huntley's Loren Alberts and Emma Konie defend against Hampshire's Lucy Magnussen last week in Huntley.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 

When freshman outside Emma Konie joined Huntley's lineup this year, senior right-side Aleah Amelio didn't just get another talented hitter to play with.

Amelio got some company with Konie being a fellow left-hander.

Having two of its best hitters swinging from the left side gives Huntley a little different look, and at times an advantage -- at least until the Red Raiders are scouted more thoroughly.

"It's a different angle, it's a different cut shot they can do versus a right-handed hitter," Red Raiders coach Karen Naymola said. "It's a bit of an advantage having both of them where they can hit different angles when they need to."

Huntley swept Hampshire last Thursday. Amelio led the Red Raiders with 8 kills and Konie had 7.

"Sometimes it is an advantage because they don't line up on your arm," Amelio said. "Especially for our freshman when she's swinging on the outside it's not expected. She can swing down the line and she has a good shot."

Amelio is the lone senior on a young Huntley squad that is playing beyond its years so far. The Red Raiders are 6-0 after beating McHenry in 3 sets Tuesday.

"This is the most well-bonded team I've been on," Amelio said. "Everyone from last year got better over club season. We're all just working together. We're not just playing for ourselves, we're playing for each other."

Clemson commit: Aurora Christian now has two future Division I players in its lineup.

Junior setter Kaitlyn Beebe is headed to Western Illinois, and sophomore outside Cate Long made her decision last week.

Following a key 25-20, 25-23 Northeastern Athletic win over Keith Country Day, Long committed to Clemson. Florida State, Duke, TCU and James Madison were among the other programs Long was considering, according to Eagles coach Amanda Curren.

The 6-foot-1 Long had 300 kills and 41 aces as a freshman. The sky is the limit over the next three years.

"She is an athletic and dynamic player," Curren said. "Aside from Cate's talent, which is unlike any sophomore I have seen, her ability to keep her composure during pressured matches paired with her work ethic of going above and beyond what is expected are qualities that Cate possesses. She is willing to do whatever it takes to win just one more point.

"It is not every day that you come across an athlete that is a motivated teammate and has character that matches her talent."

Sister act: St. Charles East coach Jennie Kull has been fortunate enough to coach several talented sisters on the same team before, and she has another duo this year with Kyra and McKenna Slavik.

Kyra, a senior, and McKenna, a junior, are both setters already committed to Ohio University and Clemson, respectively.

"Similar to the Niski's back in the day or the Vitale's way back in the day," Kull said. "They work well together. They get along well. Kyra is the kind of kid who said I'm going to do whatever it takes to make our team win. And she's the senior."

What Kyra has done since returning from a finger injury is change positions, becoming a hitter in the offense to give St. Charles East another offensive weapon it needs.

In a 25-19, 25-8 win over Batavia on Tuesday, she put down 7 kills in the opening set alone.

"Kyra is hitting now and passing," Kull said. "She's a Division I setter but she's an athlete. She's doing a fantastic job."

The Saints needed to make some changes following Friday's loss to St. Charles North that likely ended their hopes of a conference championship.

St. Charles East has plenty of other goals to turn to instead.

"We were kind of in a funk but we really learned from that," senior libero Anna Skryd said of the North Stars match. "We took it in a positive light and we really want to switch gears. We still have a lot of season left. We're really working hard in the gym and pushing to be the best team we can."

Deep bench: What do Lauren Caprini, Megan Dawrant, Skylar Nafziger, Megan Clark, Amanda Parker, Kira Kawa, Annie Wolf, C.J. Johnson, Abby Graham, Kelly Jakaitis and Olivia Bambach have in common?

They are the 11 seniors on St. Charles North's roster. With a handful of talented juniors too, and only six players on the court at a time, there's obviously not enough playing time for everyone.

That isn't the most important thing with this group, said North Stars coach Lindsey Hawkins, whose team improved to 10-2 with a win over Streamwood Tuesday.

"We just have a fantastic group of seniors," Hawkins said. "Great leadership. Some of those girls don't care if they get out on the court, they just want to be here cheering for each other. It's one of the best groups I've had."

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