Girls volleyball: Crystal Lake Central hands Huntley 1st FVC loss
Crystal Lake Central used its all-around game and balanced offensive attack to hand Huntley its first Fox Valley Conference loss Tuesday night in front of a boisterous home crowd.
With three Division I players in its starting lineup and five players finishing with at least 4 kills, the Tigers outlasted the Red Raiders 25-19, 19-25, 25-17, dropping Huntley to 23-4 overall and 14-1 in the FVC.
Thanks to Cary-Grove's win over the Tigers (25-2, 13-2) last week, Huntley still controls its own destiny in the FVC race. Wins in its final three matches over Prairie Ridge, Hampshire and Burlington Central will give the Red Raiders the outright title.
Crystal Lake Central avenged an earlier 3-set loss at Huntley, and coach Lisa Brunstrum credited her team's consistent ball control.
"The biggest difference for us was our passing and ball control," Brunstrum said. "We were a lot more in system this time. We really ran our hitters from some different locations. Huntley struggled a little more tonight than the first time. Their middles were really dominate the first time we played them. (Huntley setter) Taylor (Jakubowski) runs a really fast offense and that's something we worked hard to prepare for this time around."
The Tigers looked like they might make quick work of Huntley Tuesday, taking a 7-2 lead early in the second set after controlling the first.
The Red Raiders answered with their best stretch of the night, going up 10-9 after Jakubowski's quick reaction on a one-hand set to Katelyn Bower for the kill.
Huntley gradually built its lead from there. A few points later Josie Schmitendorf's sprawling dig kept a rally alive that ended with the Tigers hitting long to make it 19-15. Emma Konie blasted kills on three of the final four points to end the second set.
Unfortunately for the Red Raiders they weren't able to keep the momentum going in the third set. Konie's kill briefly put Huntley up 4-3, but the Tigers scored the next three points to lead 6-4 and never trailed again.
"Game 2 we were serving aggressive, serving specific zones, targeting people on their side and it worked," Huntley coach Karen Naymola said. "And in Game 3 we couldn't hit our serving zones. Our ball control was not like what it was in Game 2 so we could not run our middle. They could not stop our middles. Every time we were getting them the ball we were scoring. Unfortunately when our passes are off we can't force our middles. It's really as simple as that."
It certainly wasn't a lack of effort for the Red Raiders as multiple times two players just missed nasty collisions when both were diving for the same ball. Schmitendorf (23 digs) and Jakubowski (19 digs, 28 assists) were involved in one such play late in the third set. Konie led Huntley with 11 kills, Ashley Konecki had 7 and Kylie Jenkins 6.
Camryn Hausler, Madeline Timmerman and Madeline McCormick were among the many Tigers swinging hard all night, combining for 24 kills including 5 for Hausler in the deciding third set.
"Central has a lot of offensive threats coming at you," Naymola said. "It's not often they send over a free ball, it's not often they tip. You have to play defense 90 percent of the game.
"Thy did a nice job running their right sides and making Taylor play defense a lot. Our off-system game is not the strongest part of our play. We struggle with an off-system ball."