High school volleyball: Crystal Lake Central tops Cary-Grove for Jacobs Invitational title

Outside hitter suffers ankle injury during pool play, but Tigers go on to beat C-G in final

ALGONQUIN – Crystal Lake Central was rolling along Saturday at the Jacobs Invitational when an opposing player stepped on the right foot of outside hitter Madde Blake, causing the Tigers' captain to go down.

"I think all of us were shocked," senior Camryn Hausler said. "We didn't really say anything. She [plays] such a big role on our team. It's pretty upsetting."

The Tigers went on to win their last match in pool play against Catholic Memorial of Waukesha, Wisconsin, in straight sets, but the team's only real concern was the well-being of Blake.

"She's a leader, and she brings so much energy to the court," Tigers coach Lisa Brunstrum said. "They're all friends off the court; they care about each other. Most of it was genuine care and concern, not about what’s going to happen the next time we step foot on a court."

The Tigers were without Blake, who was taken to a nearby hospital for X-rays, for their last two matches. That didn't stop Central from winning the tournament for the third year in a row.

Central went 5-0, beating Belvidere North, 25-23, 25-22, in the semifinals and Cary-Grove, 25-9, 25-16, in the championship match.

The Tigers had some time between pool play and bracket play to regroup after the injury. Brunstrum said Blake had strained ligaments in her right ankle but wasn't sure how long she would be out.

"We came in right before the game started, and we said, 'Let's do it for us,'" said senior Grace Levin, who was named to the all-tournament team, along with Hausler. "Let's win for [Blake], and we did."

The Tigers had to adjust on the fly after Blake's injury. Hausler, who had moved to setter last season, moved back to the outside. Levin, who had 13 assists, eight digs and three kills against C-G, took control of the offense.

"I thought they really stepped up," Brunstrum said. "I thought Grace did a fantastic job of running our attack. Camryn did a fantastic job, stepping up and switching positions for us again. (Sophomore) McKenna Timmerman played six rotations in the back and had some big digs and serving runs."

Levin finished with 55 assists and 34 digs in five matches, Hausler had 24 kills, 27 assists, 30 digs and six blocks, Maddy McCormick had 23 kills and 49 digs, and Karina Simatos had 46 digs and 14 aces, including four in the final.

Madeline Timmerman had 19 blocks and 20 kills, Olivia Anderson had 16 blocks and 13 kills, and McKenna Timmerman had 19 kills, 22 digs and six blocks.

"All of our hitters are so versatile," Levin said. "The connection and understanding between the defense and offense is insane. We connected awesome today."

Despite losing the final, Trojans coach Patty Langanis was encouraged by her team's performance.

"We had been waiting to play Central all day. We were excited to get to the final," Langanis said. "We weren't able to generate a lot of emotion on our side. It's baby steps to get us where we need to be."

C-G (8-2) and Jacobs (6-3) played in the tournament's wildest match, with the Trojans beating the Golden Eagles in the semifinals, 25-10, 23-25, 32-30. Coach Lisa Dwyer said it's been "at least five or six years" since Jacobs played in the championship bracket.

Jacobs turned up the intensity after dropping the first set to C-G.

"You could see it in their faces; they were trying to murder the ball," Dwyer said. "We had to relax, and we did. They played with so much heart. They were refusing, refusing to lose. It was awesome."

Marian Central (3-5) finished 2-3, winning its final match against Boylan, 26-24, 19-25, 25-10. Also being named to the all-tournament team were C-G's Evynn Layshock and Jenna Splitt, Jacobs' Maggie Wallenberger and Rachel Kaczorowski, and Marian's Emma Balduf and Ingrid Reyes.


Grace Levin, Crystal Lake Central, sr., S

Levin had 13 assists, eight digs and three kills in the Tigers' championship win over Cary-Grove.


32: Cary-Grove squeaked by Jacobs with a 32-30 third-set victory in the semifinals.


Crystal Lake Central has won the the past three Jacobs Invite titles.

Jacobs Volleyball Invitational 

Championship: Crystal Lake Central 2, Cary-Grove 0 (25-9, 25-16)

Third place: Belvidere North 2, Jacobs 0 (25-16, 25-17)

Local team results

Crystal Lake Central (5-0)

Crystal Lake Central 2, Belvidere North 0 (25-16, 25-20)

Crystal Lake Central 2, Barrington 0 (25-11, 25-19)

Crystal Lake Central 2, Waukesha Catholic Memorial 0 (25-9, 25-9)

Crystal Lake Central 2, Belvidere North 0 (25-23, 25-22)

Crystal Lake Central 2, Cary-Grove 0 (25-9, 25-16)

Cary-Grove (4-1)

Cary-Grove 2, Marian Central 0 (25-11, 25-17)

Cary-Grove 2, Grant 0 (25-13, 25-13)

Cary-Grove 2, Hinsdale Central 0 (25-19, 25-17)

Cary-Grove 2, Jacobs 1 (25-10, 23-25, 32-30)

Crystal Lake Central 2, Cary-Grove 0 (25-9, 25-16)

Jacobs (3-2)

Jacobs 2, Rockford Boylan 0 (25-10, 25-21)

Jacobs 2, Wheaton North 0 (25-18, 25-13)

Jacobs 2, Batavia 0 (25-12, 25-21)

Cary-Grove 2, Jacobs 1 (25-10, 23-25, 32-30)

Belvidere North 2, Jacobs 0 (25-16, 25-17)

Marian Central (2-3)

Cary-Grove 2, Marian Central 0 (25-11, 25-17)

Hinsdale Central 2, Marian Central 0 (25-20, 25-19)

Marian Central 2, Grant 1 (18-25, 25-21, 15-11)

Waukesha Catholic Memorial 2, Marian Central 0 (25-22, 25-20)

Marian Central 2, Rockford Boylan 1 (26-24, 19-25, 25-10)

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