Exceeding expectations this early in the season isn’t a bad thing, but St. Charles North still remains careful not to put too much weight on last weekend’s Plainfield North tournament title.
It’s only September – well, August when the tournament concluded – but North finds itself in a good place just the same.
“We really like starting out with that tournament because it’s so competitive and because it’s so early in the season, you get to see what kinks you’ve got to work out still,” North Stars coach Lindsey Hawkins said. “To be totally honest, I wasn’t expecting to do as well as we did. I thought we still had some things to work on, and I know we still have some things to work on, but I was really proud of them because they did do so well.”
Taylor Krage (44 kills, 14 blocks) and sister Daley (23 kills, 10 blocks) sparked a solid effort at the net, benefiting from the precise play of setter Sydney Wohlert, who earned all-tournament team honors.
Sophia DuVall and Emily Carroll added to what Hawkins called “a wall at the net,” never wavering in their intensity.
Hawkins noticed a great sense of purpose during summer workouts, as North returned a talented core that includes the Northern Illinois-bound Taylor Krage. North’s mental toughness – a key component to the deep postseason run the team aspires to – was heightened from the start.
“The girls are really, really competitive and they have a drive about them that keeps them going every single day, that keeps them in the gym to get better,” Hawkins said. “They have this competitive edge. You could tell during summer camp. They walked into the gym and they wanted to start then.”
‘Potential’ is ACC’s buzzword
Aurora Central Catholic realizes lumps will be the norm during a trying early-season stretch that includes this weekend’s Geneva Tournament and Suburban Christian Conference road matches at traditional powers Marian Central and St. Francis.
“This team is very inexperienced. They’ve got a ton of potential. I just don’t think that we’ve hit that potential yet,” Chargers coach Jeanne Czipri said. “Once we get into a rhythm, I think we’ll be a tough team to beat.”
While ACC returns its share of seniors – including setter Lauren San Diego and libero Clare Tack – underclassmen will get substantial playing time, as well. Two sophomores start for the Chargers: returning middle hitter Maddy Trnka and varsity newcomer Kendall Iverson, an outside hitter.
Freshman Sydney Audifred-Zauner, filling a utility role, also is working into the rotation. She contributed two solo blocks during Wednesday’s home loss to Oswego East.
“They’re a good, energetic, fighting group,” Czipri said. “We’ve just got to get through the kinks and the bad decisions and start realizing our potential.”
– Kevin Druley, email@example.com
IN THE GROOVE
Kaneland, Jr., OH
What she did: Dunn smacked a match-high 12 kills in Tuesday's road loss to regional rival Burlington Central, keeping the Knights close in an eventual three-game defeat.
Area teams' resolve
What happened: This week alone has provided its share of nail-biters between Chronicle-area teams, and we're not even into conference play yet. Burlington Central-Kaneland and St. Charles East-Rosary saw the home teams both prevail in three games.
WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK
There's no reason to panic at the Spyglass Center. Of course there isn't, but after a rough season-opening loss to fellow perennial power Mother McAuley, defending 3A state champion St. Francis felt all the more urgency to snag its first win Wednesday at Batavia. The Spartans came through in two games.
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
More about the early landscape of conference races. Tuesday brings intriguing Upstate Eight Conference River Division openers that include St. Charles North at Batavia and Larkin at St. Charles East. Geneva takes on Elgin before breaking from conference play to face upstart DeKalb later in the week.
COACH SLY SAYS
Even though the lightning had a little something to do with putting more buckets in the Spyglass Center seats, Sly still was happy to see St. Francis-Mother McAuley pack 'em in before what was supposed to be a season-opening football game last Friday.
Volleyball atmospheres can get as rowdy as anything depending on a school's superfans and the venue, and this meeting of of big-time teams only augmented that.