Volleyball

High school volleyball: Huntley dumps St. Charles East, wins first sectional title since 2001

CARPENTERSVILLE – Huntley had every reason to be nervous before Wednesday’s sectional championship rematch with St. Charles East, so the Red Raiders sang a familiar tune.

“We came in here, we were singing,” senior libero Josie Schmitendorf said. “Even before we left school, we were sitting at a table with a speaker and saying, ‘This is happening. Senior year, we’re doing it.’ ”

The Red Raiders hit every high note, playing one of their most complete matches of the year and sweeping St. Charles East, 25-13, 25-15, to win the Class 4A Dundee-Crown Sectional title. Huntley’s last sectional championship was 18 years ago, in 2001.

Huntley advances to play Wheaton Warrenville South at 6 p.m. Friday in the Streamwood Supersectional, with the winner moving on to the state semifinals Nov. 15 at Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena.

“It’s just incredible. We all worked so hard for it,” said four-year captain and setter Taylor Jakubowski, who had 23 assists Wednesday and is second on the state’s all-time list with 3,536. “This was our goal, but we’re not done yet.”

The Saints (25-14) had knocked Huntley (34-5) out of the postseason in each of the past two seasons. Last year’s loss to St. Charles East was especially tough for the Raiders, who entered on a 22-match winning streak and were playing at home.

“We talked before the game and said, ‘Third time’s a charm,’ ” Schmitendorf said. “We’re not letting it happen again.”

Leading, 7-6, in the first set, the Raiders went on a 5-0 run to take a 12-6 lead, getting two kills from senior outside hitter Kylie Jenkins (eight kills, 12 digs) and one each from senior middle blockers Ashley Konecki (six kills, ace) and Katelyn Bower (four kills, two blocks).

St. Charles East cut the lead to 12-8, but the Raiders responded with another big run. An ace by Konecki gave Huntley an 18-11 lead. Jenkins had two kills and a block to end the first set.

“I knew at that moment, we couldn’t let down,” Jenkins said. “We had to take charge and take control of the game. If we played like ourselves and played like a family, we knew we could do it.”

Huntley broke a 5-5 tie in the second set, going on a 6-2 run for a 11-7 lead. After St. Charles won the next four points, the Raiders started their push for the sectional championship with an 8-0 run.

Huntley rarely let a ball drop, with Schmitendorf leading the defense with 23 digs. Emma Konie added 16 digs and six kills.

“That’s probably the best they’ve played all season,” Huntley coach Karen Naymola said. “Everyone came out and was ready to compete. For such an amazing group of seniors, you couldn’t have asked for a better game.”

St. Charles East coach Jennie Kull was impressed with the Raiders’ almost flawless play.

“It was almost effortless for them,” Kull said. “They were like a machine. They were in rhythm, they were moving and you know what? We basically didn’t have an answer. They were not going to let us [win] three in a row.”

The Raiders will try to extend their season Friday.

“With the group that we have, as close as they are, this means everything to them,” Naymola said. “But we’re not done yet. We have bigger things to do.”

STAR OF THE MATCH

Taylor Jakubowski

Huntley, sr., S

The four-year captain recorded 23 assists and two kills in a 25-13, 25-15 sweep against St. Charles East.

THE NUMBER

18: Huntley made its last supersectional appearance 18 years ago, in 2001.

AND ANOTHER THING …

St. Charles East had knocked Huntley out of the postseason in each of the past two seasons, including last year's sectional final.

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