Girls volleyball: Naperville Central completes sweep of Neuqua Valley
Naperville Central's Kenzie Brower plans to lead a beach life in college.
Make that a college volleyball beach life.
The junior middle hitter is seeking to play college beach volleyball.
She's currently right on track for her goal.
"I plan to go play college for beach, but I still love indoor," Brower said. "I'm going to just focus on playing beach in college, not indoor. I tried it one summer and fell in love. I love playing on the beach and the ocean, and it's always been my dream to go somewhere warm. This summer will be big for me, to try and get recruited by a big school and live out my dream."
Brower delivered two vital consecutive blocks to spark Naperville Central to a 25-18, 25-17 victory over Neuqua Valley on Tuesday.
The 6-foot-1 Brower is the tallest player on the Redhawks, but college-bound seniors Kaitlyn Skowronski and Giorgia Cavalleri garner the majority of the attention.
Even so, Brower's strong play at the net is a major factor in Naperville Central's strong season. The Redhawks (7-1, 6-1 DuPage Valley) defeated the Wildcats (2-6, 2-4) for the second time in two sets this season. Brower said she's preparing for an increased role next season.
"We've all been working super hard in practice, so it always feels good to come out and actually perform and see all of our hard work on the court," Brower said. "It's going to be hard losing two key players after this season and be interesting to see how all of our roles change and be a lot bigger. It's going to be exciting."
Cavalleri finished with 5 kills and 3 aces, while Skowronski tallied 5 kills and 5 digs. Brower had a kill, a dig and two blocks. Her two consecutive blocks gave the Redhawks an 18-15 lead in the first set.
"We're going to have two high school seasons in the same calendar year, so this is big for Kenzie," Naperville Central coach Brie Isaacson said. "This is the second time playing Neuqua Valley, so we knew it was going to be a competitive match. It was toggling a bit, but those two big blocks kind of swung the momentum in our way. Those were key in that moment to grab the momentum.
"Kenzie is fantastic. We would like to get her involved more. Our goal is to use her anytime we possibly can because she's a difference-maker for us."
Neuqua Valley, which has five seniors, kept the match close but hurt itself with a number of service errors at key points of the two sets. Lauryn Housholder, a three-year varsity player, paced the attack with 7 kills and Bryanna Jones had 4 kills and 7 digs. The Wildcats have four matches left in the season.
"We gave up way too many points," Neuqua Valley coach Kelly Simon. "We would do some good things and then turn around and make a service or attacking error. We practice great. The girls work really hard as a team. We just have to execute. They're great teammates, and just need that transfer from practice to games."