SOUTH ELGIN – The St. Charles North girls volleyball team opened post-season play Tuesday by blowing past an overmatched Fenton squad in a Class 4A South Elgin Regional semifinal, 25-11, 25-14.
Northern Illinois-bound senior Taylor Krage had 10 kills for the North Stars (29-5), the No. 2 seed in the Geneva Sectional.
“We really wanted to come out with high energy today because it helps set the tone for everything we hope to do this post-season,” Krage said. “We really tried to focus on our ball control. We knew there was going to be a lot of high and deep shots and a lot of deep, aggressive serves. They really took us out of our game a little bit on serve receive, so we had to have higher execution hittingwise.”
The 18th-seeded Bison (8-19) got an ace serve from Nicole Susmarski to stay close in the first game at 12-8, but North dominated the rest of the opening game. Krage won a battle at the net to start the North Stars on a 10-0 run to close the game. It was Fenton that had serve-receive problems during that stretch, as the Bison failed to return four serves by libero Alex Seavey.
The North Stars had seven aces in the match.
“We work on that a lot,” North coach Lindsey Hawkins said. “We have kind of made it our motto that we are going to serve low to the tape and with some velocity because that’s a hard ball to pass. You’re not going see jump serves out of us, but you’re going to see some hard-driven float serves because that’s just about maybe the hardest ball to pass.”
The North Stars executed that phase of the game well, making no service errors in the match. An ace by Sydney Wohlert started North on an 8-0 run to begin the second game. Sophia DuVall had three kills in the middle during that spree, a couple coming on quick sets by Wohlert, who had 14 assists.
A couple hitting errors by the North Stars gave Fenton a brief flicker of hope in the second game as the Bison cut the deficit to 12-5.
“We have a lot to clean up,” Hawkins said. “We haven’t played since last Tuesday, so a week off really didn’t do us any good. We had a lot of our own mental errors.”
The North Stars scored the next eight points to squash Fenton’s slim comeback hopes with three coming on aces by Krage.
“We’ve also been trying to serve really aggressively,” Krage said. “Really if you win the serve and pass game, you win the match.”
With a comfortable 20-5 lead, Hawkins was able to give a number of players off the bench some valuable post-season experience.
“We’ve got a really deep bench,” Hawkins said. “It’s a really nice problem to have. I can turn to anybody and they’re ready to go.”
Nicole Celarek had six kills for Fenton.
Jaclyn Taylor recorded seven kills for North, Daley Krage added six, and Emily Carroll finished with four. Taryn DalDegan had five assists for the North Stars, who will face seventh-seed Wheaton North in Thursday’s championship match. The Falcons defeated South Elgin in Tuesday’s second match, 26-24, 25-16.