Girls volleyball: Huntley tops Dundee-Crown for 7th straight regional championship
After losing many impact starters to graduation, Huntley felt a little underestimated as a team with just as big of aspirations as the year before.
"I feel like going into the season, all people were talking about was how Huntley lost their seniors," junior outside hitter Georgia Watson said. "But this team just has so much fight in them. It's so fun to play, and it's so fun to prove [others] wrong.
"Winning a regional championship is amazing, and we're looking forward to sectionals. We're ready to go."
Top-seeded Huntley collected 12 aces Thursday and coasted to a 25-12, 25-13 win over fourth-seeded Dundee-Crown in the Class 4A Rockford East Regional final for the team's seventh straight regional title.
The Red Raiders (31-6) advance to play second-seeded Gurnee Warren in a Huntley Sectional semifinal at 7 p.m. Monday.
Huntley coach Karen Naymola has been impressed by her team's determination all season. The Raiders will look to win their fourth straight sectional championship next week.
"I think it shows the grit they have," Naymola said. "We lost those players, but now it's their turn. They want the opportunity to show everybody it's their turn."
Watson led Huntley with eight kills, followed by senior outside hitter Morgan Jones with five kills and five aces.
Senior setter Laura Boberg tallied 18 assists and seven digs, senior Lizzy Williams had three kills, seven digs and three aces and junior Mari Rodriguez added seven digs. Freshman Izzy Whitehouse had three aces.
Watson, a Kentucky commit, was playing in her second match this week after missing the previous nine with a back injury. She played sparingly Tuesday in the semifinals but got a more complete look against D-C.
"Coming out here today and having a good game, it felt really good," Watson said. "Obviously, I haven't had the best luck [with injuries]. I feel completely healed and it just feels great to be on the court again."
Jones, who will play next year at Missouri, said getting Watson back is a big boost.
"Having that big hitter in the front row, she's a go-to player for us, and it's amazing to have her back," said Jones, who leads Huntley with 260 kills. "Having her back changes our whole dynamic. We're just a much better team when we're all here together."
Dundee-Crown (16-20) was led by senior outside hitter Taylor Findlay with four kills. Senior outside hitter Audrey Prusko and junior middle blocker Coley Di Silvio had three kills apiece.
Senior libero Sydney Komperda had six assists and six digs, senior libero Courtney Komperda had seven assists and sophomore Maura Minogue added two aces.
The Chargers started 1-11 but finished with 15 wins in their final 24 matches.
"We had a lots of changes in the lineup, which I think happened for the better," Courtney Komperda said. "This was a big group of new players walking onto the court together. I think we started fighting for each other."
Komperda, one of six seniors on the team, said she will miss everyone, especially senior Megan Pearson and her twin sister Sydney.
"[Pearson] brings so much energy and so much light, she just makes my day better," Courtney Komperda said. "It's so hard knowing I won't get to see her again. It's been great [playing with Sydney]. Her deciding not to play club is what's best for her, but it really hurts me. She's such a great libero and she hasn't been recognized for it. I know she works so hard."
Although Thursday's result didn't go the way she wanted it, Chargers coach Alexis Cayton said her first year was certainly memorable.
"It was awesome," Cayton said. "They gave it everything they had, and I couldn't be more proud of this group. We didn't have the numbers we thought we were going to have, but they made the adjustments and they made it fun."