ROCKFORD -- After letting a late lead slip away, Huntley was determined not to let it happen again.
The Red Raiders dominated DeKalb in Game 3 from start to finish, wrapping up a regional title with a 25-17, 24-26, 25-13 win.
Emily Westermeyer led the way with 9 kills in the final of the Class 4A Jefferson regional Thursday night.
The Red Raiders (24-13), who avenged a loss to DeKalb in the regional finals last year, advance to the Belvidere North sectional where they will play Warren at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Warren defeated McHenry 31-29, 25-19 to win the McHenry regional.
Huntley, which won the 20th regional title in program history, was 2 points away from wrapping up the match in 2 games, leading 23-20 in Game 2, only to watch the Barbs close the game on a 6-1 run. Courtney Wagner on the left side had 3 kills during that run and the Raiders just couldn't seem to regain their equilibrium.
But Game 3 was a different story. Huntley jumped out to a 12-5 lead and was never in danger.
The turnaround in Game 3 was just a matter of getting back to basics. The Red Raiders, who changed their lineup to counter DeKalb outside hitter Courtney Bemis, went back to their regular lineup and did what they do best.
"Game 3 we just had to regroup, refocus, and go back to what our game plan was," said Huntley coach Karen Liss. "In Game 2 our serve-receive broke down a little bit so we really had a hard time forcing our middle. We were trying to run a faster offense, but with our serve-receive breaking down, we couldn't run our offense. In Game 3 our serve receive was almost flawless."
Emily Lyman and Rachael Kisten added 6 kills apiece for Huntley. Rachel Shores led the defense with 17 digs, and setter Kelsey DeWulf had 31 assists.
"We knew that it was do or die," said Lyman of that third game. "We knew that if we didn't come in playing hard, talking, being loud, it was the end of our season and none of us wanted that to happen. We wanted it more than anything. This was all we've worked for all season."
"We just wanted to find the weaknesses and keep using them until they stopped working," said Westermeyer. "Offensively, we just tried to use some tips, mix up our shots, keep them on their toes and never let them know where we were going."
Huntley breezed through Game 1. After trailing early on, the Red Raiders took the lead for good with a 6-0 run midway through the game. Westermeyer served the last 5 points during the run. Later, a 5-0 run, with Shores serving the last 4 points, made it 22-17.
The Raiders led most of the way in Game 2, but let the Barbs hang around. DeKalb cut a 20-16 lead to 20-19. After Huntley built it back up to 23-20, the Barbs took over. A kill by Abby Hickey got the run started, and DeKalb scored 3 more points with Kate Hickey at the service line.
A kill by Kisten tied it at 24, but another kill by Wagner and one by Abby Hickey finished off the Red Raiders.