Girls volleyball: Hersey tops Buffalo Grove for 20th win of the season
Alexa Knutson, a star middle hitter on the Hersey girls volleyball team, also plays water polo.
Not a couple of sports that would seem to have a lot of similarities, but according to Knutson, they're very much alike.
"Playing hard, scoring points, and bringing the energy is what makes (both sports) so special," said the senior, "and it's also how close everyone is on both teams. Here at Hersey, we're like a family in water polo, and the same goes for this volleyball team -- and I feel like you might not get something like that at a lot of schools."
So far, the family and togetherness theme has been working to perfection for Huskies volleyball.
Thursday night at Buffalo Grove, Hersey improved to 20-2 on the season with a 25-17, 25-10 victory over the Bison.
The Huskies also are now 9-0 in the Mid-Suburban East, and as a matter of fact they've only been taken to 3 sets in 2 matches this fall.
"It's definitely due to team chemistry," added Knutson of her team's success. "We've got a lot of friends on the team who weren't friends when the season started, and I think that's a big reason why we play so well together. We cheer each other on and pick each other up before the games and during the games."
It doesn't hurt either that the Huskies roster lists six players at 6-feet tall, and one other at 5-11.
"We are a tall team," said Hersey coach Nancy Lill, "but in addition, and I've being doing this a long time, we do have some of the most incredible chemistry of any team I've ever had -- and that goes a long way. They just have so much fun together."
Hersey had 4 aces in the first set, and when sophomore Claire van den Herik hit a tip kill, the Huskies led 13-7.
A block kill shared by Huskies Kami Wojtanek and Lily Pagan helped increase the lead, and although a couple of blocks from Bison junior middle Audrey Cole brought BG closer, the Huskies extended the advantage late.
Hersey won Set 1 when setter Allie Korba, a senior, surprised the Bison with a well-placed game winning dump kill.
"They're a really good team," said BG coach Matt Priban of Hersey. "They're a strong serving team, that was tough for us, and they put together a couple of big runs."
BG kept pace with Hersey in the second set and the Bison blocking was superb early, especially by junior Julia Barnett and senior Celine Li.
But with BG trailing by just 1 point at 7-6, Hersey went on one of those runs that Priban talked about.
Huskies senior Lauren Lubbe had a block kill, teammate Korba served up an ace, sophomore Erin Dela Riva hit a strong kill, and sandwiched around a couple of Bison errors, just like that the Hersey lead was 14-7.
BG fought back behind the stellar play of senior outside hitter Abigail Ferriss, but Hersey scored 11 of the next 13 points. Two late kills from Knutson helped seal the deal, and Korba set van den Herik for the match-winning kill.
"I give a lot of credit to our girls," said Priban. "They were staying focused and they were in it, in system, and they were doing some good things. It was a struggle though, to stay in the points and keep with it."
Ferriss led the Bison attack on 14-of-17 hitting with 4 kills while on defense, Paige Lira and Ferriss each had 5 digs.
Hersey's Korba finished with 18 assists, 4 kills and an ace, van den Herik led the attack with 8 kills, while Dela Riva excelled with 6 kills.
"We have a great group of seniors and some very talented sophomores," said Lill, "and our setter, Allie, is just amazing. You look at our outsides, our middles, our defense -- it's just been a fun year."