Photo: Keri Groen pushes the ball past Geneva defenders uring Kaneland’s Spikefest held at Kaneland Harter Middle School on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk
Top-seed Lady Knights sweep Green Wave at Hampshire
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Tuesday’s playoff opener got rid of the bad taste of last year’s crushing opening defeat pretty well.
Almost a year to the day of a three-game downer at the hands of Glenbard South to end the 2011 season, mistakes were curbed and the aggressive tone worked in a 25-18, 25-18 win over St. Edward of Elgin on Tuesday at the Class 3A Hampshire Regional.
The win over the No. 5 seed Green Wave paves the way for a regional winner-take-all against the third-seed Sycamore Lady Spartans, which beat No. 2 Burlington Central after Kaneland’s victory by a 25-23, 25-21 clip.
“Postseason has not been nice to us, and we’ve faced some tough opponents,” KHS coach Todd Weimer said. “We were determined and we were focused, and we wanted to come out and play the best we could.”
KHS is now 22-12 for the year.
St. Edward fell victim to its share of errors in the first game on Tuesday, and Kaneland took advantage with a 15-5 lead. The Green Wave closed it to 19-12 before an Ellie Dunn kill. After seeing the margin close to 20-15, a block by Keri Groen, a pass over the net by Jenny Lubic and a Lyndi Scholl kill helped extend the margin to 24-16. An attempted block hit the net for game point at 24-18.
“The most important thing that we did was ball control,” libero Shayna Tucek said. “Every player focused on what they had to do, and they did it.”
St. Edward regained some footing and was ahead as late as 14-13 in the second game.
A Lauren Banbury kill gave the Lady Knights a lead for good at 16-15. After Kaneland put the pressure on, St. Edward was forced to regroup in a time out at 22-16.
Up 22-17, Groen stuck a kill down the St. Edward lineup, and several exchanges later, had another kill followed by a Scholl game point for the match win.
“It’s honestly the biggest weight lifted off,” Scholl said. “It’s an amazing feeling knowing that we can play Thursday and the season isn’t over. We still have a chance.”
Thursday’s loss to the visiting Lady Foxes was despite the best efforts of Lubic and Ashley Prost, who had a combined 24 assists. The lower level games all went Kaneland’s way.
At SpikeFest, no team performed better except the champion Geneva Lady Vikings. Riverside-Brookfield took third, followed by Metea Valley, Yorkville and Hampshire.
Kaneland’s 4-1 mark featured wins over Hampshire (25-16, 25-19), R-B (27-25, 27-25), Metea Valley (25-17, 20-25, 15-9) and Yorkville (25-14, 25-14).
The loss against Geneva was a 25-19, 25-22 result.
By virtue of their exceptional play, Dunn and Banbury of Kaneland earned all-tournament nods.
Dunn had 18 aces, three kills and eight blocks, while teammate Banbury had 13 kills and four blocks.
Kaneland is set to play in the Hampshire Regional final on Thursday, Oct. 25, at 6 p.m.