St. Charles North coach Lindsey Hawkins sensed a no-nonsense professionalism in players from the time fall workouts started.
The intensity wavered slightly as a handful of losses pocked the transition from September to October, but the 28-5 North Stars picked things up again before long. The team has not lost a match or a game since absorbing a road sweep at Waubonsie Valley on Oct. 3.
That stretch includes two of North’s three tournament titles this fall, at Schaumburg and at Minooka.
“I can just tell the girls are hungry for more wins, so that’s a really good thing to see out of them,” North coach Lindsey Hawkins said. “They come in every day and practice and really want to challenge themselves and challenge each other. That’s the mentality that you have to have it you want to go far in the playoffs.”
North, which shared the Upstate Eight Conference River Division title with St. Charles East, will have had a week off before its postseason opener against either Willowbrook or Fenton in Tuesday’s opening Class 4A South Elgin Regional semifinal.
“Definitely have a lot to work on over the next couple days at practice,” Hawkins said. Really getting into the mindset of postseason. Especially in our area, it seems like it’s anyone’s game nowadays. … We’re just trying to work on getting better and work out some of the kinks that we have in our game, hope that we show up to play.”
North already has earned its most single-season victories under Hawkins and has won three regionals since she took over in 2009.
Saints keep coming together
No middles, no worries. At least for now.
East rallied from a three-game loss at North in September to tie its crosstown rivals for the conference title. Middle hitters Mikaela Mosquera and Ashley Bullock missed much of that run due to injury.
“I’m so happy. With everyone out right now, I think we’re doing a great job,” East libero Anne Hughes said. “That makes us more confident that when we get everyone back in, we’ll be even better.”
East coach Jennie Kull is optimistic the team will be in full health when the postseason starts.
Burlington Central aspires to return home for a 3A sectional in the first week of November. Should that occur, the Rockets can credit a lesson they relearned at the end of October.
While BC topped Marengo on its senior night this week, it was surprised to require three games do so. The Indians posed a threat after Central, seeking at least a share of the Big Northern Conference East title with Richmond-Burton, has handled much of the league with relative ease.
“It’s going to be a battle,” Rockets coach Marv Leavitt said. “Every match from now on is going to be a battle and we have to come ready. If we don’t come ready, we’ll have a pretty short postseason. If we come ready, we can do well.”
Senior libero Allie O’Reilly, who opened her varsity career as a setter, recently committed to Illinois-Chicago, picking the Flames among a few other NCAA Division I offers.
“She just liked being close to home and liked the program at UIC, so I think she’s very happy to have this opportunity,” Leavitt said.
– Kevin Druley, firstname.lastname@example.org
IN THE GROOVE
St. Charles North, Sr., OH
What she did: The Northern Illinois-bound Krage paced North to a Minooka Invitational title with 37 kills in five matches over the weekend before adding nine kills in Tuesday’s road sweep of Streamwood in the regular-season finale.
Wheaton Academy, Sr., MH
What she did: Served 11 successive points in Game 2 of Monday’s 25-18, 25-11 sweep at St. Edward. Tellschow tallied 15 service points overall.
WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK
Sharing’s not so bad. As St. Charles East and St. Charles both won Tuesday, both teams were at peace with the tie for the Upstate Eight Conference River Division crown that created. Batavia and Geneva were in the tile hunt for most of the season, as well. “It was a lot of fun to see which teams won, who got farther and everything,” East sophomore middle hitter Sydney Urban said.
WHAT WE’LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
Which Kane County Chronicle-area teams emerge with regional championships. In 4A, Batavia and Geneva could be on course for a clash in the Addison Trail Regional title match. In 3A, frequent postseason combatants Kaneland and Burlington Central are on opposite courses. The Knights head south to Sandwich while the Rockets travel to Genoa-Kingston.
COACH SLY SEZ
The postseason’s gonna be real fun any way you slice it, but imagine the added excitement if St. Charles East gets back to full strength.
There was talent before injuries took a hold and talent throughout the Saints’ run to a share of the UEC River title. But players’ confidence is soaring much higher than when the season started.
It takes a mix of everything to win at this time of year, including the occasional good fortune. Do the Saints have it all? We’ll find out starting next week.