High school volleyball insider: Crystal Lake Central's Madde Blake is Athlete of the Week; plus power rankings, notes

Madde Blake, Crystal Lake Central
Madde Blake, Crystal Lake Central

Athlete of the Week

Madde Blake, Crystal Lake Central, jr., OH

Blake helped lead the Tigers to the Jacobs Invitational championship on Saturday, recording a team-high 39 kills and 42 digs and adding six aces as Central went 5-0 for the second straight season.

In FVC play, she tallied seven kills and 11 digs against Hampshire and seven kills, seven digs, and four aces against Cary-Grove. Central won both matches in straight sets.

Northwest Herald Power Rankings

1. Prairie Ridge (6-1): The Wolves suffered their first loss of the year against St. Charles North, 28-26, 25-22, but bounced back with a 25-19, 25-11 victory over Hampshire to improve to 5-0 in the FVC.

2. Huntley (6-0): The Red Raiders swept Crystal Lake South and Jacobs, moving to 5-0 in the FVC.

3. Crystal Lake Central (8-1): The Tigers are 3-1 in the FVC and have won seven straight matches. Central captured the Jacobs Invitational for the second consecutive year, beating Catholic Memorial of Waukesha, Wisconsin, 32-30, 19-25, 25-16, in the final.

4. Cary-Grove (5-6): The Trojans place fourth at the Jacobs Invite and are 2-2 in the FVC with losses to Huntley and Crystal Lake Central.

5. Hampshire (8-4-1): The Whip-Purs have dropped three straight matches, but they've all come against quality opponents in Prairie Ridge, Crystal Lake Central and Belvidere North, which are a combined 24-4.

Worth noting

Gamechanger: C-G's Evynn Layshock has started since her freshman year with the Trojans, and area teams have noticed her big-play capability. In the Jacobs Invite against Crystal Lake Central, the 5-foot-11 junior was double-teamed on the block multiple times.

Layshock, along with Jenna Splitt, was named to the all-tournament team for the fourth-place Trojans.

"She's a gamer," C-G coach Patty Langanis said. "We like getting the ball in her hands, but we have to start getting more hitters involved because blockers will start keying in and overloading on her, which is what happened (against Central), She'll swing front court, back court, and she doesn't ever play with fear."

2,000 club: Last week, Huntley's Taylor Jakubowski became the second active area player with 2,000-plus assists in her career, joining Prairie Ridge senior Jayden Otto, an Eastern Michigan University commit, who entered her senior season with 2,098 assists. Through seven matches, Otto is now over 2,200 career assists, leading all area players.

This week's top matches

Prairie Ridge at Huntley, 6 p.m. Tuesday: Two of the top FVC contenders meet in the first of two regular-season meetings.

Johnsburg at Woodstock North, 6 p.m. Tuesday: Both the Skyhawks and Thunder have KRC championship aspirations. Johnsburg was 10-2 last year and placed second, losing out to Burlington Central (11-1) in the conference finale.

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