ALGONQUIN – Crystal Lake Central’s volleyball team has started the season under the radar, but the Tigers can’t count on their dark horse status much longer.
At the Jacobs Tournament on Saturday, Central exuded a confidence and poise befitting a team with seasoned starters, not one that lost 10 standouts to graduation. The Tigers dispatched Wheaton North in the championship match, 25-20, 27-25 to win the 12-team tournament for the first time since 2007. That year, the Tigers went 42-0 overall to win the Class 3A state title.
Cary-Grove finished third, Dundee-Crown was seventh, Jacobs was eighth and Hampshire took 12th.
Tigers senior setter Susie Jeziorowski admitted Central has something to prove.
“It’s a fresh beginning,” said Jeziorowski, who finished with 92 assists and 40 digs. “It’s exciting to see us bouncing back after losing the 10 seniors. A lot of us having been playing on JV for the last few years. This is our shot, and I’m glad we’ve taken advantage of it and showed them what we’re made of.”
The Tigers (7-0) won their pool to advance to the Platinum bracket, where they faced Hersey in a semifinal. Trailing 19-14 in Game 3, Central senior middle blocker Cayla Hausler (12 blocks) smacked a kill to earn sideout, and the Tigers put together an 8-2 run to jump ahead 22-21. Junior outside Brittany Lownds (24 kills) and junior right side Sarah Kelly had two kills apiece during the sequence. A Hersey hitting error ended the match.
In the championship match, Wheaton North led 23-20 in Game 2 when Central rallied. Senior outside Mackenzie Allen (39 kills, 10 aces), Lownds and freshman Megan Kelly each had kills to help Central lead 26-25.
Libero Sarah Adams’ ace ended the match.
“This is a kind of a never-die team,” Central coach Lisa Brunstrum said. “Just when I think they’re getting tired and letting the game slip away, they’ll turn around and make one of those phenomenal plays or they’ll take a really aggressive swing and we’re right back in it.”
Cary-Grove lost to Hersey in pool play, but rebounded to beat the Huskies, 25-18, 25-16, in the third-place match. Senior outside hitter Abby Schebel led the Trojans (5-2) with 30 kills and junior setter Erin Olson dished 75 assists.
Waukesha Catholic (Wisconsin) beat Dundee-Crown (5-3) in the silver bracket semifinal, but the Chargers responded with a win against host Jacobs in the silver bracket consolation match, 25-11, 25-17. Senior outside hitter Kiana Mays led D-C with 25 kills, and junior setter Frankie Cavallaro had 46 assists.
Jacobs (2-7) beat Barrington, 25-15, 25-18, in pool play for its sole win Saturday. Senior libero Kassie Kasper had 47 digs and junior middle hitter Bridget Wallenberger led the attack with 32 kills. Hampshire (1-6) got 67 assists from senior setter Brittany Laffin.
“There’s still a long way to go, but we made huge strides from where we started to where we ended,” Jacobs coach Lisa Dwyer said. “ … In the afternoon we turned a big corner.”