CRYSTAL LAKE – It didn't matter which hitter Crystal Lake South junior setter Cassy Sivesind ran the offense through in the Gators' season opener against Woodstock.
With so many attack options, South kept the Blue Streaks guessing. It started with senior outside hitter Avalon Nero's three kills to help the Gators jump to a 4-1 lead in Game 1. South didn't slow down, turning to junior outside hitter Carly Nolan, whose powerful swings resulted in nearly an untouched four kills to give South an 11-2 advantage. The Gators didn't let up and cruised to a 25-10, 25-12 Fox Valley Conference crossover win Thursday.
"We have a big offense with a lot of hitters that can do a lot of powerful stuff," Nolan said.
Four Gators tallied a kill while three – Nero, Nolan and senior middle blocker Nicole Slimko – finished with at least six kills. Nolan led South (1-0) with nine kills. Gators coach Jorie Fontana said that overall she was "very pleased" by her team's performance.
"It's nice to know in that makeup, girls can have an off night," Fontana said. "They're going to learn this season to share that wealth around and it'll make us a pretty deep team as far as our offense is concerned."
As one of the favorites to win the FVC Valley, the Gators realize opponents are going to bring their best efforts. They passed their first test but have a quick turnaround, playing in the Plainfield North Invite on Friday and Saturday.
"It feels good, but it's kind of dangerous at the same time," Nolan said of being targeted. "It's a lot of pressure on us, but I think we can handle it."
Perhaps most impressive about South's win was its ability to get points from anywhere on the court. Nolan consistently beat Woodstock's defense out of the back row, which has been a point of emphasis for Nolan during the club volleyball season, and South proved it can get points from anyone at the net. The Gators didn't let up at the service line either, posting 10 aces.
The Blue Streaks (0-2) were able to take advantage of a couple Gators errors, combined with two kills from Amanda Jandernoa, to climb within 17-9 of South in Game 1. But too many unforced errors proved too much for Woodstock to overcome on the road against an experienced South squad. Blue Streaks coach Meghan Mullaney believes if they can develop their mental game they can hang with teams like South.
"We need to work on finding a team mentality or team attitude," Mullaney said. "We're such nice girls and we need to find some sort of fight and desire on the court. That's the thing we're lacking."