Girls volleyball: Crystal Lake Central pulls away from Cary-Grove
In a normal season, Crystal Lake Central's girls volleyball team can always fall back on the ringing support of a large number of fans -- home or away -- to give them a little extra push through a point, set or match.
This year, with spectators limited, the Tigers have had to rely on themselves more than usual.
"Central usually brings in a lot of fans and it gets really loud in the gyms, so we kind of have to bring our own noise this year," said senior libero Karina Simatos, a four-year varsity player. "We're just making the best of it and we're thankful we have a season."
After a quiet second set against Cary-Grove on Tuesday, the Tigers rallied in the third to pull away for a 25-17, 20-25, 25-18 win against the Trojans in their Fox Valley Conference match.
With the win, the Tigers (5-1, 5-0 FVC) kept their one-match lead over Huntley -- which beat Jacobs, 23-25, 25-23, 25-12, on Tuesday night -- in the FVC standings. Central hosts Huntley, last year's conference champion, at 7 p.m. Thursday.
After some uncharacteristic errors in the second set by the Tigers, Central senior middle blocker Madeline Timmerman helped her team get going again in the third with some big stuffs at the net, finishing the match with five kills and five blocks.
"I think we just started getting in our groove and playing like we normally play -- like we know we can play," Timmerman said of bouncing back in the third set. "I feel like we made a lot less errors and we were more positive in our huddles."
Timmerman, an Eastern Michigan commit, said she has noticed a lack of noise in gyms this season.
"It's taken a lot of adjustment," Timmerman said. "Instead of relying on our fans, we have to rely on each other. I felt that in the second set we were a little more quiet than normal and we needed to pick that up."
After leading for all but one point the opening set, Central never led in the second against C-G (2-3, 2-3), which received big performances from middle blocker Tricia Kennedy (seven kills) and outside hitter Julia Rice (three blocks, four kills). Grace Eyrich had a team-high 13 digs for the Trojans, Lauren Passaglia had 16 assists, and libero Alexes Koenig served three aces.
Trojans coach Patty Langanis felt like the Trojans flipped the match in the second set and became the aggressor.
"I was really proud of them," Langanis said. "We knew we needed to get a stronger block against those big Central attackers. We started the second set right away, strong at the net. We were the aggressors. When we play like that, it really feeds our confidence.
"We just couldn't hold them off in the third. They took the aggression back and started owning the net. We were just in a defensive mode that whole time."
Central's Maddy McCormick (three blocks, nine digs) came out firing in the opening set with six of her match-high 12 kills in a dominant effort early.
Corynne Hausler recorded 29 assists, three aces and eight digs, McKenna Timmerman tallied nine kills, 19 digs and an ace, and Simatos contributed 17 digs and two aces. Lauren Klutke added four blocks, two kills and 17 digs, and Mary Grace Gallagher had four kills for the Tigers.
Central coach Lisa Brunstrum could see her team gaining confidence in the third set.
"Cary-Grove made a lot of adjustments, came our really aggressive playing some all-out defense and we slowed down," Brunstrum said. "In the third set, I thought we started off stronger. We started a couple of runs with some really big blocks that gave us a lot of momentum."