Girls volleyball: Kaneland caps 2nd straight undefeated conference season
The Kaneland Knights are undefeated conference champions for the second year in a row.
The Knights knocked off the Sycamore volleyball team 25-21, 25-19 to clinch the conference title in the fierce rivalry game against the No. 2 team in the conference.
"Two years in a row undefeated conference champs, it feels great," Knights coach Cyndi Violett said. "I'm very proud of the girls."
The Spartans held the lead in both sets, but the Knights had big runs in both sets to put themselves ahead and never look back.
The Spartans held a 12-8 advantage in the first set and the Knights called a timeout. The Knights (31-3, 14-0 in I8) came out of the stoppage and reeled off 10 straight points for the commanding lead.
"We just knew what we all had to do," Kaneland senior outside hitter Maddie Buckley said. We all knew our jobs and we executed. We trusted the person next to us that they were going to do their job."
The Spartans (22-11, 12-2) hung tough, cutting the lead to 23-20 on two straight kills by outside hitter Caylee Sharkey.
"It's not what we wanted and we're tired of getting beat by them," Sharkey said. "We're ready to come back in practice and work hard and definitely prepare for regionals. We're pretty mad about it."
The Knights, behind Buckley's offense, slammed the door on the Spartans, scoring two points off long volleys to ice the first set.
The second set saw another Knights comeback on a big run this time from down 14-12.
After the Spartans ran off three straight points to take the lead, the Knights countered with a six-point run of their own with Buckley putting away kills and Libero Mackenzie Ewen serving up a couple of aces to push the lead to 18-14.
Sharkey responded with consecutive kills to cut back into the lead, but the Knights got two points for every Spartan point the rest of the way.
"We've just got to learn how to finish," Sycamore coach Jennifer Charles said. "Overall, I think we played well. Playing Kaneland is always tough."
The second set and match ended on a smash by Buckley to end the contest and seal the conference title for the Knights.
The Knights and Spartans have a potential rematch in the postseason. If both teams win their regional semifinal games, they'll meet in the 3A Glenbard South regional final.
"This is a rivalry game for us," Violett said. "We knew coming in that if Sycamore won, then we'd be co-champs, which is big for us. I just hope we don't face them in regionals, but there's a good chance we might."
Both teams play Tuesday. The Spartans face Fenton at 6:30 p.m. and the Knights play at 5:30 p.m. against the winner of the 7 vs. 8 seed match, IMSA or Glenbard South. The winners meet Thursday for the title.