Girls volleyball: Crystal Lake South beats rival, now 6-0
Crystal Lake South's volleyball team had Thursday's return trip to Central Fieldhouse circled on its calendar ever since Crystal Lake Central ended the Gators' spring season with a two-set loss in the Fox Valley Conference Tournament championship in April.
After falling behind for the first time this season, the Gators made sure Thursday's rematch against their rivals had a different result. Playing without three starters, South stormed back from a set down and beat the Tigers, 21-25, 25-21, 25-22, to win the FVC crosstown match and stay undefeated.
With the win, the Gators (6-0, 6-0 FVC) will enter next week as the only unbeaten team remaining in the FVC after previously undefeated Huntley (6-1, 5-1) dropped its first match of the year with a 25-23, 26-24 loss to Cary-Grove.
"The is the one we've been waiting for," senior middle blocker Mia Regillio said of facing Central. "With three players out, it was a little unsure going in, but pulling together and finishing was huge for us. No matter what happens, we always have each other's backs. We can pull it out if we just work together."
South was playing without its starting setter (Emma Stowasser), libero (Alyssa Zagroba) and outside (Gabby Wire). Stowasser suffered an injury in practice on Wednesday, so senior Faith Gruenwald was called upon to make her varsity debut. She finished with 31 assists and four blocks.
"Having that ability to respond and show that they can grit it out, they can fight it out and get back to great volleyball regardless of what's going on and who's next to them just makes us a stronger team," Gators coach Jorie Fontana said. "It was a super proud moment because we're facing some adversity right now. Everybody stepped up tonight. It's hard to single out a single player."
With the teams tied at 8 in the third set, the Gators went on a 6-0 run, getting three kills from sophomore Morgan Jones, to take a 14-8 lead. South then grew its lead to 18-12, but Central (4-7, 2-4) made a run of its own.
Back-to-back-to-back kills from Lauren Klutke, Bree Hubacher and Klutke for Central cut the Gators' lead to 21-20. Some untimely hitting errors on Central's side put the ball back into the Gators hands, and the Tigers were unable to return Proszenyak's final swing for match point.
Proszenyak said it took awhile for the Gators to find their rhythm. Along with Gruenwald, libero Kaitlyn Brandt also was playing her first varsity match.
"Even though we had some players missing and maybe had some miscommunication early on, we still pulled together and I'm really proud of us all right now," Proszenyak said. "It takes a lot of guts to step on this court and play varsity. I try to be a big leader for them, try and help them every step of the way."
"I'm really proud of the whole team."
Proszenyak led the Gators with 11 kills and a pair of aces, Jones added eight kills, Regillio had five kills and six blocks and Megan Langdon tallied four blocks and four kills. Also for South, Morgan Johnson had a team-high 14 digs, Brandt had 10 digs, and Ashley Ciezadlo had four kills.
Central coach Amy Johnson said the Tigers are still finding their way -- with some inexperience at varsity showing at times. Still, she said they have showed tremendous growth since the start of the season and Thursday's close match is a good sign.
Communication is something they still need to work on, she said.
"They're just not used to having to communicate all of the time," Johnson said. "This program has been able to walk in a gym and they can be silent and still walk out and just crush everybody. They are realizing they have to work as a cohesive unit and that we need all six people on board at one time."
McKenna Timmerman recorded 14 kills and 20 digs for Central, Lauren Klutke had 16 assists, nine kills, 10 digs and three aces, and Bree Hubacher added eight kills and 18 digs.