CRYSTAL LAKE - During summer practices, Kassi Dvoracek approached Crystal Lake Central volleyball coach Lisa Reddish with a proposition.
Dvoracek, a 5-foot-7 defensive specialist, would start hitting. By doing so, Dvoracek would join a cadre of talented Tigers hitters and set up on the outside. Reddish wouldn’t need to give up Dvoracek’s defense since Dvoracek could play all six rotations.
Win-win, Dvoracek figured. Reddish bit.
On Tuesday against Prairie Ridge, Dvoracek showed her coach why the move wasn’t much of a gamble.
Dvoracek nailed five kills in her second showing as one of Central’s outside hitters this season, including three in the first game to help lift Central to a 25-14, 25-20 victory against the host Wolves in a Fox Valley Conference crossover.
“It was like, ‘Well, let’s try and see what we’ve got,’ because Kassi really always has been a hitter,” Reddish said. “Two years ago and last year we just really needed that stability in the back row and she could provide that. This season, she really wanted to hit. She’d been working on her shots and developing a high swing. She just came alive.
“I think tonight is a huge confidence boost for her to know that she can do it. She’s not just a passer and a serve-receiver. She really can be a six rotation leader for us on the floor and she can be that stability person.”
Dvoracek set the Tigers at ease early in Game 1 of a rivalry match that tends to put both teams on edge. Dvoracek served five straight points and three aces to give Central a 6-1 advantage that was punctuated by a big kill from senior outside Maddy Cysewski (team high six kills).
“It gave us some time to relax and slow the game down a little, especially because the game was a little fast for us,” Dvoracek said. “This was a huge match for us. We’ve lost to (Prairie Ridge) before so winning was a big accomplishment.”
The Wolves (0-2 overall) stormed back in Game 2, tying the score at 6 on a block from junior Ali Witt and keeping pace with kills from Kennedy McNeil that kept Prairie Ridge within a point. A Central error knotted the score again at 17, but the Tigers used an 8-3 run, that included kills from Dvoracek and Cysewski, to close out the match.
There was little Prairie Ridge coach Stefanie Otto disliked about the way her girls played, save the match’s outcome itself.
“I am just thrilled with how much we have improved since last Tuesday (in a loss to Lake Zurich), and the confidence we have gained,” Otto said. “We have a couple people who still need to get more and I have ideas and thoughts on that. We’ll work on it (Wednesday). But I was impressed.”