HUNTLEY — The postgame stat sheet spoke volumes about how well Huntley played during its 25-17, 25-18 Fox Valley Conference volleyball win over Crystal Lake Central Tuesday night.
The Red Raiders (24-3, 12-2 FVC) committed just two unforced errors in the first set, four in the second set, and led for all but four of 85 combined points during the entire match.
Additionally, seven different Huntley players had kills, led by Julia Johnson, who had six, Marissa Deem had five, while Emma Konie and Loren Alberts had four apiece.
But it was Alberts' five blocks which seemed to energize her teammates most, and took away whatever momentum the Tigers tried to muster on numerous occasions.
"A lot of times, especially if the other team's sets are high, our outsides and our right-sides will talk to each other," Alberts said. "We'll say, 'ready, ready, up,' and try to time our blocks together so we're all in sync. That makes it a lot harder for teams to finish against us."
Near the net wasn't the only place Huntley was finishing well. Junior Josie Schmitendorf tallied four consecutive aces during a 6-0 Red Raiders' run midway through first set, which forced Tigers coach Lisa Brunstrum to call a timeout.
"Huntley did almost everything well tonight," Brunstrum said. "They're really aggressive with their serves, they're aggressive finishing, and they were in rhythm and in system almost the entire match. Plus, we weren't real solid in our serve receive tonight, and that's why they were in control from start to finish."
In the second set, Huntley had 13 kills, which were facilitated in part by Taylor Jakubowski's match-best 24 assists. Sarah Zayas was strong defensively with 13 digs.
"Great all-around effort from our girls," Huntley coach Karen Naymola said. "Ever since the Asics Tournament two weeks ago, we're playing with a level of confidence I haven't seen all season. And more importantly, we're performing our best when we're under pressure.
"I think some of that stems from the pressure drills we've been working on in practices. I give our players a set amount of time to get a specific number of spikes down, and a specific number of those have to be in one zone on the court."
Central (21-4, 10-3) got nine kills and three blocks from Madeline Timmerman, 12 digs from Karina Simatos and eight digs from Grace Levin. The Tigers were mathematically eliminated from FVC title contention with the loss as first-place Prairie Ridge beat Jacobs in three sets Tuesday. The Wolves clinched at least a share of the conference title with their win.
"Not to take anything away from Huntley, but we lost a key starter in Olivia Anderson to knee surgery — and a broken finger on top of that — a few weeks ago," Brunstrum said. "And we started just one senior tonight. Yet here we are with more than 20 wins anyway. I keep reminding our players of that fact.
"In the end, it's gonna be what we do in the playoffs, which start in a few weeks, that matters most. We still feel we can have a big impact in the postseason if we clean some things up and play our best."
STAR OF THE MATCH
Loren Alberts. Huntley, sr., MB
Alberts' relentless energy seemed to light a fire under her teammates. She finished with four kills and five blocks.
6: Unforced errors by Huntley during Tuesday's match, out of 85 total combined points between the two teams. Central had 12.
AND ANOTHER THING...
The Red Raiders took over sole possession of second place in the Fox Valley Conference, and face first-place Prairie Ridge on the road Thursday night at 6 p.m.