Girls volleyball: South Elgin maintains Upstate Eight lead
For a team that only returned one starter, South Elgin sure is turning heads.
The Storm moved one step closer to the Upstate Eight Conference championship Tuesday night at home with a 25-21, 28-26 win over Glenbard South.
That follows a tournament championship last weekend at Hampshire, the second title for a team with just senior outside hitter Angie Negron back.
"Everybody thinks we're South Elgin, we're the team that everybody graduated, we aren't supposed to be good," Negron said. "We're the underdogs. It's pumping us up, motivating us even more to do better and keep going. Even in times like this when we get down in the game, we say we've got this. The fact people underestimate us is what motivates us to do even better."
South Elgin (19-6, 6-0) has three conference matches remaining against East Aurora, Bartlett and Glenbard East.
Glenbard South (13-13, 4-2) tried to play spoiler Tuesday, rallying from deficits in each set to have chances down the stretch.
Each time the Storm won the big points -- often with Negron taking charge.
"They are not used to pressure situations and obviously this is a pressure situation," Storm coach Joni Plach said. "They were just playing really timid, they weren't going out there and playing their game. But we came out with a win."
Tied at 19 in the first set, the Storm scored five straight points. Freshman Alyssa Worden started it with a kill for a sideout, then went to the service line and won four points including an ace. Negron's tip kill made it 24-19.
The Raiders fought off three game points before another Negron smash off Glenbard South's block won the opening set.
South Elgin looked like it would make it an easy win in the second set with leads of 5-0 and 13-4. But the Raiders fought all the way back to tie the score at 20-20.
Down 24-22, Glenbard South survived two straight match points, both on kills by Lauren Sweeton. The Raiders then had two chances to force a third set up 25-24 and 26-25, but each time Negron put down a winner, once on a hard hit and the next a tip.
Negron then ended the match with an ace for a 27-26 lead and a kill from the back row.
"She's (Negron) very calm," Plach said. "She's not perfect, she makes errors but she doesn't let her errors affect her. Having a player like that with such a young team really mentally helps everybody."
Negron led both teams with 12 kills and added 11 digs. Worden totaled 3 aces, 7 kills and 17 digs, and Allison Cunniffe set 23 assists.
Sweeton (8 kills), Sadie Camfield (5 kills, 3 aces, 17 assists) and Kathleen Milllett (13 digs) paced the Raiders.
"That's something we've been able to do in the past," Raiders coach Chad Grant said of the comebacks in each set. "We're not a team that gets down on ourselves too much. We continue to fight. And we've got some good servers that allows us to get on some runs. We feel we can come back from any deficit."