Girls volleyball: Huntley's offense clicks in opening win
After and up-and-down spring season that included injuries and quarantines, Huntley's volleyball team was excited to be back to full strength for its season opener against Crystal Lake Central.
"To be able to finally get back and playing again, it was just so nice to be with the team and have some normalcy," junior middle blocker Avary DeBlieck said. "I think everyone did really well tonight and everyone was super excited to come out. It's nice to come back when everyone's in good health and just kind of get after it."
Huntley, which ended the spring at .500, came out with lots of energy and used a balanced attack to beat Central, 25-21, 25-18, in their Fox Valley Conference match Tuesday.
"I thought offensively, we worked really well," Raiders coach Karen Naymola said. "We were mixing up our offense a lot and we did a really good job of spreading it around and using all of our offensive threats. We had to switch up a couple of rotations in the first set, but once we overcame that, we played really well.
"I was impressed with our blocking. I thought we did a good job of slowing things down and taking away angles so our defense could move and adjust."
Central (0-1, 0-1) went unbeaten in conference play during the COVID-19-shortened spring, beating all of the other nine FVC teams during the season, and was 3-0 in the conference tournament to finish the year as FVC champions.
The Raiders, a No. 3 seed in the FVC tournament, were eliminated in the quarterfinals. Duyos was one of Huntley's players who was forced to miss a handful of games because of quarantine.
"It's a huge deal to knock them out early," Duyos said of beating the Tigers. "They're a big competitor for us. Last year, we struggled a lot. I ended up missing four or five games, which was absolutely dreadful. It was the last sprint of the spring, and we were playing really well. It was just a big blow. But we came back stronger this year, and we're ready to hit the ground and run."
Duyos finished with 20 assists and 10 digs, junior outside hitter Ally Panzloff had a team-high 10 kills, while DeBlieck added eight kills and Lizzy Williams had seven. Luma Acevedo led the Raiders (1-0, 1-0 FVC) with 14 digs. Lauren Bauer had eight.
Huntley and Central were tied 12 times in the first set before the Raiders pulled away. Hanging onto a 19-18 lead, Huntley had three consecutive points on a kill from DeBlieck, ace from Williams and block from Bauer.
The teams were tied again at 7 in the second set when the Raiders went on an 11-4 run to pull away. Panzloff had five kills during that stretch.
Tigers first-year coach Amy Johnson, a 2002 Cary-Grove graduate, said she could sense some nerves on her side.
"I think our body language at times was looking like we were a little unsure of ourselves," Johnson said. "That middle hitter, No. 14 [DeBlieck], and No. 9 [Panzloff], we just started struggling defensively. Then we stopped serving tough, they started passing better and then they had more options hitting, so that kind of put us on our heels a little bit.
"I think we hung with them at first, and then they just kind of overpowered us in the end."
McKenna Timmerman led all players with 12 kills for the Tigers, Lauren Klutke and Paige Keller each had eight assists, and Brecken Noennig led the defense with nine digs.