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High school volleyball insider: notes, power rankings and what to watch

Marengo's Lillie Simons, left and Abby Roh, right, block the hit of Woodstock North's Alyssa Wickersheim during the first set Sept. 25 in Woodstock.
Marengo's Lillie Simons, left and Abby Roh, right, block the hit of Woodstock North's Alyssa Wickersheim during the first set Sept. 25 in Woodstock.

Marengo's Lillie Simons has always stood out as one of the area's top sprinters and jumpers in track and field. The Indians senior and high flyer has also garnered attention for what she does on a volleyball court.

"Lillie has always been a track girl," Indians coach Meg Dobbertin said. "Last year, she came up to me and said, 'Do you think I can play volleyball after high school?' She put out a highlight film, and she already has Division I schools asking for her."

Simons, a 5-foot-11 rightside hitter for the Indians, qualified for the Class 2A Girls Track and Field State Meet two years ago in the 200 meters, long and triple jumps, but a left hamstring injury derailed her junior season.

Simons continued to work out with her Club Fusion volleyball team and opened a lot of eyes. Simons, whose vertical is 10-foot, 2 inches, got a Division I offer from South Alabama in July.

"She’s super fast, and her arms, just the length of touching 10-2 is amazing," Dobbertin said. "She’s a centerpiece for us, for sure. Lillie is absolutely one of the best players that I’ve ever coached."

Simons has had a monster season for the Indians, who are 15-6-4 and tied for second with Woodstock North in the Kishwaukee River Conference. She's been a big part of Marengo's success the past two years, both on and off the court.

"She’s a gem, she's a leader," Dobbertin said. "She carries the poles every day in practice. She puts the net up, and she takes it down. She works as hard as anyone on the team, and that girl deserves everything."

Conference races: Woodstock's 25-23, 27-25 victory against Marengo on Monday – the team's 18th sweep of the season – puts the Blue Streaks in prime position to win the KRC title this year for the first time.

The Streaks, led by seniors Hanna Berry, Emma Brand and Sophie Wicker, have won 37 of 39 sets played this season. Woodstock's turnaround started last year, when the Streaks won 24 matches – the program's most victories since 2007 and a 13-win improvement from the year before.

"It's kind of indescribable in a sense that it feels so unreal," Wicker said of being 18-1 at this point. "Going perfect in conference would be pretty cool."

In the FVC, one win separates Huntley and Crystal Lake Central at the top of the standings. The teams play each other for the second time on Oct. 15. Huntley beat Central, 25-15, 16-25, 25-15, in their first meeting, which is the Tigers' only loss. The Red Raiders are unbeaten in their first 13 matches.

Central senior Madde Blake did not play in the first meeting against Huntley, but returned Tuesday in a three-set win over Burlington Central, supplying 10 digs, after missing three weeks with an ankle injury.


1. Huntley (13-0): The Red Raiders trailed, 9-1, in the opening set against Cary-Grove but came all the back to beat the Trojans, 25-21, 26-24, and stay undefeated. Huntley's perfect season will be tested this weekend at the Mother McAuley ASICS Challenge.

2. Crystal Lake Central (20-1): The Tigers have won 10 straight since a loss to Huntley. Central picked up FVC wins against McHenry, Jacobs and Burlington Central in the last week, moving to 10-1 in conference.

3. Cary-Grove (13-5): The Trojans gave the Raiders all they could handle Tuesday but came up short in the FVC loss. C-G is third in the FVC at 8-3.

4. Woodstock (18-1): All the Blue Streaks do is win. Woodstock has lost only two sets this year and is closing in on the KRC championship.

5. Prairie Ridge (10-8): The Wolves have lost four of their last five. On Tuesday, it was Dundee-Crown that beat Prairie Ridge, 25-15, 11-25, 25-23, putting the defending FVC champions in a tough spot to repeat. Trinity Sheridan and Hannah Baudin were both out against the Chargers because of illness.


Crystal Lake Central at Prairie Ridge, 6 p.m. Thursday: The Tigers need to keep winning to keep pace with Huntley in the FVC.

Mother McAuley ASICS Challenge, Friday and Saturday: Huntley and Cary-Grove compete in the loaded 24-team invite that includes teams from Iowa, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Nebraska, Florida and New York.

Woodstock North at Woodstock, 6 p.m. Monday: The Blue Streaks can possibly win the KRC championship outright with a win over their crosstown rivals.

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