Girls volleyball: Kaneland rolls past LaSalle-Peru
LA SALLE -- The Kaneland girls volleyball team took its first step toward defending its Interstate Eight Conference championship Wednesday.
The Knights jumped out to a big lead early and regrouped from a sluggish start to the second set in a 25-10, 25-16 victory over La Salle-Peru in La Salle.
"It's really exciting," Kaneland setter Meghan O'Sullivan said. "We've been working really hard in practice. This is a really good start for us."
The Knights went 15-1 overall in the spring and 14-0 in the conference.
"Hopefully, we can do the same thing and be undefeated [in conference] this year," O'Sullivan said. "We have high standards for ourselves. We hope we can get to state."
Kaneland (9-1) ran out to a 6-1 lead with Maddie Buckley putting down a pair of kills, Mia Kane recording a kill, Olivia Sheehan blocking a kill attempt and Bella Rio serving an ace.
"It's always good, especially traveling as far as we do to La Salle, to come in and play the first set really well," Kaneland coach Cyndi Violett said. "I thought the girls did their job really well. They really took care of the one and dones and got the ball back. We didn't allow too many runs. The second set, I think we got a little overconfident. We made some mistakes we shouldn't have made. Those are things, if they want to go far, that they have to clean up. But I'm proud of them overall."
The Knights pushed their lead to 11-3 and 17-6 before closing out the set with back-to-back kills by Buckley.
"We were running quick," Violett said. "Their middles were a little slower so we were trying to run as much quick as possible. They play man-up defense, so we know we have to hit that zone six all the time. We know the spots to hit against them, then it's just coming down pounding real hard to get them down."
The Cavaliers hung around early in the second set, taking a brief lead at 3-2 on a Kaneland error, and stayed within three points until Rio put down a kill to give the serve to O'Sullivan, who served for four points to extend the Knights' lead to 12-6.
O'Sullivan finished with 17 assists and six kills, Buckley slammed down eight kills, and Rio had eight kills, a block and an ace.
"It was really good to have different availability throughout the court to get different people going and running things," O'Sullivan said. "It helps our team be louder. It will be good for us later on in the season."
Avery Urbanski had six points, six digs, four kills and three assists for L-P (2-6, 0-1 Interstate Eight), while Taylor Martyn had 10 digs and three points.
"I thought we got a lot of touches," L-P coach Mark Haberkorn said. "I was happy with our front row. Our back row was solid with serve-receive and defense. I thought we did a great job of reading. They split our blocks sometimes and I thought our defense was able to pick some balls up. I think we're getting better in the back row with reading the hitter.
"They're a very powerful team. A very good team. Overall, I was happy with our performance. I don't think we took a step backward. I thought we competed the whole game. We just have to put a few more balls down."