Volleyball

High school volleyball insider: Player of the week, power rankings, notes and more

Daryl Quitalig - For Shaw Media
Marian Central setter McKayla Wuensch (7) sets the ball during the championship match of the Huntley Invite at Huntley High School on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016. Marian Central defeated Huntley, 25-22, 28-26.
Daryl Quitalig - For Shaw Media Marian Central setter McKayla Wuensch (7) sets the ball during the championship match of the Huntley Invite at Huntley High School on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016. Marian Central defeated Huntley, 25-22, 28-26.

Athlete of the Week

McKayla Wuensch

Marian Central, sr., S

Wuensch helped lead the Hurricanes to a 6-0 week as the Hurricanes collected their second straight Huntley Invitational title with victories over DeKalb, Glenbard North, Boylan, Crystal Lake Central and Huntley.

Earlier in the week, Marian Central swept St. Viator, 25-22, 25-17, to stay undefeated in East Suburban Catholic Conference play with two conference matches remaining.

Wuensch had 131 assists in six matches, including 41 in a three-set win over DeKalb, adding 15 kills and seven aces. For the season, Wuensch has 585 assists.

Northwest Herald Power Rankings

1. Marian Central (27-1): The Hurricanes finished 5-0 at the Huntley Invite, beating Huntley in the final, and have won 11 straight and 35 of 36 dating to last season. They play Nazareth Academy in ESCC action Tuesday and play in the Boylan Tournament on Saturday.  

2. Huntley (17-5): The Red Raiders were 4-1 at the Huntley Invite and took second, and lost to Cary-Grove earlier in the week to move to 10-2 in the Fox Valley Conference. Next up is Hampshire on Tuesday and McHenry on Thursday. Huntley and Crystal Lake Central lead the FVC with two losses each, but Huntley has played one less match.

3. Crystal Lake Central (21-7): The Tigers took third at the Huntley Invite, and beat Hampshire and McHenry last week to improve to 11-2 in the FVC with three conference matches left. They play Crystal Lake South on Tuesday and Dundee-Crown on Thursday.  

4. Cary-Grove (18-10): The Trojans went 4-1 and took second at the Saxon Invite, losing to St. Charles North in the final. They came back and beat Huntley for the second time this year and improved to 9-4 in the FVC. The Trojans face Jacobs on Tuesday and are off Thursday.  

5. Prairie Ridge (14-9): The Wolves finished 3-2 at the St. Charles East Mizuno Cup, beating Rosary in the silver bracket's third-place match. Prairie Ridge picked up wins over Crystal Lake South and Dundee-Crown, improving to 10-3 in the FVC. They are off Tuesday and play Jacobs on Thursday.

Noteworthy

Making the switch: Cary-Grove's Maddy Katchen still believes there are many things she must learn after making a position switch from middle blocker to outside hitter, but the Trojans senior has come up big time and time again for her team. On Thursday, it was Katchen who had a kill and an ace for the final two points in a 21-25, 26-24, 25-22 FVC win over Huntley.

It was the second time the Trojans came back to beat Huntley this year, as C-G has handed the Raiders their only two FVC losses of the season so far. Katchen never has played outside before this year.

"It's hard, I'm learning a lot of new things," Katchen said. "It's so different than playing the middle, especially now because I'm passing and I'm serving. It's definitely been hard, but I'm working on it every day – watching film of other people playing."

"We put a lot of pressure and pretty much our whole success and failure in her hands, and I think she's handling it very well," Trojans coach Patty Langanis said. "She leads this team with her energy and her guts that she has on the court, and I think the other players follow her all the way."

Eye on the prize: An ESCC championship eluded Marian Central last year, but at 5-0 with two conference matches left against Nazareth Academy and Benet, an ESCC title is very much a possibility for Marian.

The Hurricanes play Nazareth on Tuesday and face Benet on Oct. 18 on senior night. Benet just defeated previously unbeaten Geneva at the St. Charles East Mizuno Cup championship.

"We definitely want to have a conference championship, but it would be equally cool to say that it would be against Benet because that's not a team that you get multiple times a year," Hurricanes coach Laura Watling said. "You get one shot to play a team of that caliber. If you can beat a team like them, that's huge. Winning conference on top of it would be amazing."

Both Benet and Marian are the only two teams yet to lose in the ESCC. Benet was one of two teams to beat Marian in the ESCC last season, along with Marist.

"Laura really, really wants to win it," senior libero Meghan Schwallie said of Watling. "So that's what we're trying to do."

This week's top matches

Crystal Lake South at Crystal Lake Central

6 p.m. Tuesday

The Tigers handed the Gators a 25-23, 25-12 loss in the teams' first meeting. The Tigers can win at least a share of the FVC title with victories in their final three against South, Dundee-Crown and Prairie Ridge.

Woodstock at Woodstock North

6 p.m. Tuesday

The Blue Streaks defeated the Thunder, 25-15, 25-20, in the first rivalry match between the Woodstock schools.

Richmond-Burton at Burlington Central

Thursday, 6 p.m.

The Rockets (15-8) still haven't lost in the Kishwaukee River Conference at 9-0 with three to go. R-B needs to win two of its final three against Burlington Central, Johnsburg and Woodstock to claim the KRC title.

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