ALGONQUIN – The Cary-Grove volleyball team battled back in Game 1 against Jacobs only to frustratingly fall short, unable to close out the Golden Eagles despite facing six game points.
After Jacobs outlasted C-G with a 30-28 victory in the first game, Trojans coach Patty Langanis was concerned. The Trojans have struggled to finish off teams when leading late and seeing them let another game slip away didn't bode well the rest of the match. However, the Trojans didn't let a tough opening-game loss get them down.
C-G responded in the next two games by putting pressure on Jacobs' defense, leading to unforced errors, one of which sealed the Game 2 win for the Trojans. And when the Trojans needed somebody to step up in the decisive third game, senior middle blocker Kayli Trausch and junior outside hitter Abby Schebel came through.
Trausch and Schebel combined for six kills in C-G's final seven points to lead the Trojans to a 28-30, 25-21, 25-22 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division win Thursday against Jacobs.
Schebel finished with a match-high 17 kills while Trausch and freshman outside hitter Maddy Katchen added nine and seven kills, respectively, for C-G (9-7, 3-3, FVC Valley). Schebel credited senior setter Meghan Seymour for doing a good job of distributing the ball among the C-G attackers.
"It finally just clicked with Meghan, and my team has been working really hard in practice on those passes and we got really consistent," Schebel said. "I'm really proud of my team."
The emergence of Katchen gave the Trojans a much-needed boost. Having seen limited action this season as a middle blocker, Langanis had Katchen work all week during practice as an outside hitter. The 6-foot freshman thrived against Jacobs (5-6, 0-4) giving the Trojans another dangerous attack option. She was particularly effective in the first game in helping C-G rally to tie and then take the lead, 21-20.
"I knew that when coach put me in that she put me in for a reason and that she picked me," Katchen said. "It was my duty to put everything away. I was nervous at first, going in unexpectedly, but then it just felt natural once I got into it."
The Golden Eagles had a great opportunity to build off the momentum of their Game 1 win, which culminated with C-G committing errors on four of the last five points. Jacobs used an 8-0 run to take a 10-6 lead in the first game and rallied following a 24-21 C-G advantage. The sophomore trio of Katie Mahoney (team-high 10 kills), Kyla Fitzsimmons (eight kills) and Bridget Wallenberger (six kills) gave C-G's defense plenty of problems early in the match.
But Jacobs' passing, particularly on serve receive, resulted in too many mistakes in Games 2 and 3. After tallying only seven errors in the first game, their 12 errors in the second game – C-G also had 12 errors – proved to be too much to overcome. Jacobs coach Lisa Dwyer knew C-G would serve aggressively and hoped her team would be able to handle the challenge after working on serve receive in practice.
"We still need to work on it defensively," Dwyer said. "We fought hard and kept trying. We just made some unforced errors that kept that gap open. ... I was still very proud of how they played. No matter what we keep getting better and better."