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PR’s Dacanay gets noticed, signs with NIU

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(Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com)
Prairie Ridge's Paige Dacanay dives for the ball Nov. 1 during the Class 4A Jacobs Sectional final against Boylan in Algonquin. Dacanay will sign with Northern Illinois University.

Paige Dacanay knew the ‘L’ for her volleyball position, while designating libero, also could stand for “last” to be recruited.

It’s understood in the volleyball world that the tall girls get picked first, then the shorter girls who fill less glamorous, yet still valuable, roles get their shots.

The 5-foot-3 Prairie Ridge senior was fine with that. In fact, it worked out to her advantage because she gained more college attention this winter with Club Fusion’s top team, 18 Black.

Dacanay signed last week to Northern Illinois University and will attend the DeKalb school on an NCAA Division I volleyball scholarship. Dacanay had some scholarship offers a year ago, but more schools were interested in the past few months. Her decision came down to Loyola (Md.), Wisconsin-Green Bay and NIU.

“Being on the top team, I got more interest,” said Dacanay, who played on Fusion’s 17 White last year. “And I know the smaller girls get picked last. Playing on Black and our high school season really helped me.”

Prairie Ridge was 30-9 overall, 11-1 in the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division, tying for the title with Crystal Lake South.

“NIU was my favorite,” Dacanay said. “When I walked onto the campus, I just had a feeling of excitement. I’m excited to get there and try to compete my first year.”

Dacanay was on the Wolves’ varsity team for two seasons. She worked her way through other programs and then to joined Fusion two years ago.

“It’s hard work,” she said. “I’ve always worked hard. With Fusion White, I got a lot of playing time and led the team in assists. Being on Black now has been a really good experience.”

Stone to Trinity International: Crystal Lake Central senior Darwin Stone, a two-year defensive starter, committed to play football at NAIA Trinity International University in Deerfield.

Stone (5-11, 195 pounds) led Central with 67 tackles, and 12 tackles for losses, last season. Stone was a Northwest Herald All-Area first-team selection.

“It was a ‘God’ moment for me, it opened up a lot of doors,” Stone said. “I stepped on the campus and fell in love with it, with the coaches and the players. I felt like I was supposed to be there.”

Stone had an offer as a preferred walk-on at D-I Eastern Illinois, had some interest from D-II Truman

(Mo.) State and was considering D-III Beloit College. He is not certain whether he will play safety or linebacker.

“We’ll see what happens,” Stone said. “I want to play safety, but they’re looking at me as an outside linebacker. I’ll be able to play either position.”

Stone will run sprints for Central’s track team this spring, which will help prepare him for football in the fall.

Spring break in France: Prairie Ridge senior Connor Kirkpatrick will spend his spring break from March 23 through 31 in France representing the U.S. football team that will face a team from France. The game will be on Saturday, March 30.

Kirkpatrick, who will play at D-III Lake Forest College, was a two-year starting defensive lineman for the Wolves. He played on Prairie Ridge’s Class 6A state championship team in 2011.

• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at joestevenson@shawmedia.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.

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