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Prep volleyball insider: DeKalb stays ‘relaxed’ in victory

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Fisher says ‘relax’

Several times throughout DeKalb’s 25-17, 25-20 win over Morris on Tuesday, coach Ben Fisher put out his hands and said “relax” or “stay calm” to his young team. The Barbs have a tendency to lose focus, so Fisher has to remind them to focus on the next play.

“Adrenaline starts setting in and you start going crazy,” outside hitter Abby Hickey said. “When he says that, you just settle down and focus on that ball … He helps us settle down and get into the match and get focused. Just getting your head into the game, focusing on the next ball, looking to make a good play.”

Fisher’s pleas to his team are not at all uncommon. But as the team has meshed throughout the year, he’s had to tell them to settle down much less.

“Sometimes we get caught up in the moment and we get panicky and we get tense, and hit balls out,” setter Madison Lord said. “If we just relax and play one point at a time, then it’s easier … He’s having to say it less and less, and that’s good. We’re learning.”

Several times throughout DeKalb’s 25-17, 25-20 win over Morris on Tuesday, coach Ben Fisher put out his hands and said “relax” or “stay calm” to his young team. The Barbs have a tendency to lose focus, so Fisher has to remind them to focus on the next play.

“Adrenaline starts setting in and you start going crazy,” outside hitter Abby Hickey said. “When he says that, you just settle down and focus on that ball … He helps us settle down and get into the match and get focused. Just getting your head into the game, focusing on the next ball, looking to make a good play.”

Fisher’s pleas to his team are not at all uncommon. But as the team has meshed throughout the year, he’s had to tell them to settle down much less.

“Sometimes we get caught up in the moment and we get panicky and we get tense, and hit balls out,” setter Madison Lord said. “If we just relax and play one point at a time, then it’s easier … He’s having to say it less and less, and that’s good. We’re learning.”

Cogs playing under pressure

Genoa-Kingston coach Keith Foster has worked hard to instill a belief in his team that it can beat any team.

While his team improves in that respect, Foster knows there is a ways to go after a loss to Richmond-Burton, 25-12, 25-16, last Thursday.

“These girls are starting to believe that they can do it,” Foster said. “However, these opponents that they’ve battled and been on the losing end for so many years, such as [Burlington] Central or Burton, [Rockford] Christian has been tough year-in an year-out. We go in there and we spend more time looking up at them than we do with confidence in ourselves.”

That lack of confidence has led to deficits throughout the season.

“We like to put our backs against the wall. We like to play with pressure,” Foster said. “But I’m looking forward to the match when we can play consistently well from the first point to the last point. We have it in us, but we don’t have girls playing at the high level they’re able to play at for the entire match.”

Weimer pleased with progress

Kaneland lost five seniors from last season’s team, which burst out of the gates with a 14-4 start.

Heading into the season, coach Todd Weimer was slightly worried as to whether his young team would be able to compete. With a 12-5 start, he no longer feels trepidation.

“I honestly thought this was going to be a rebuilding year,” Weimer said. That was a lot of varsity experience that graduated … I am very excited about the first half of the season so far … It’s encouraging to have all these newcomers on the team, to have girls playing different positions and to be doing fairly well."

VIEWS: Young teams surpassing expectations

Despite being overshadowed by DeKalb last season, Kaneland was a talented team. The Knights were the undisputed second-best team in the area all season long in 2011, with current Wichita State hitter Katie Dudzinski and Northern Illinois Big 12 East Player of the Year Kylie Siebert leading the way.

Losing those two Daily Chronicle All-Area first-teamers was tough, and coach Todd Weimer knew his team would take a hit.

But Kaneland has been one of the big surprises this year. Despite losing five seniors, the Knights are 12-6. They’d be in the thick of the conference race had they not lost a few close games, including three-game losses to DeKalb and Yorkville, in conference play.

DeKalb and Hinckley-Big Rock also have bucked their preseason expectations after losing several key players.

The Barbs lost three All-Area first team players and replaced their head coach, but they’re off to a 4-1 start in conference play after a successful nonconference season. The Barbs are once again the team to beat in the NI Big 12 East

H-BR lost All-Area players Kaitlin Phillips, Katie Hollis and Rachel Phillips, but they beat Indian Creek and Hiawatha to move to 3-2 in Little Ten Conference play.

All three of these teams expect big things next season. But they’re all finding out that this year could be much better than expected.

SPOTLIGHT ON…

Lauren Paver, Hinckley-Big Rock, junior

The H-BR outside hitter has been a driving force behind the Royals’ surprising start to the season. H-BR moved to 3-2 in conference play this week, and Paver had nine kills in a 25-14, 25-16, win over Hiawatha last Thursday.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

LaMoille at Indian Creek, 7 p.m., Thursday

The Timberwolves will try to get back on track in conference play after a loss to H-BR on Tuesday.

North Boone at Genoa-Kingston, 6 p.m., Tuesday

The Cogs get their final prep match before they head to Burlington Central for their most anticipated match of the season.

Power rankings

1. DeKalb (19-4, 4-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East)

While the Barbs are young, there isn’t a better team in the area.

2. Sycamore (8-4, 3-2 NI Big 12 East)

The Spartans picked up a conference win against Rochelle on Tuesday.

3. Genoa-Kingston (15-9, 5-2 Big Northern Conference)

The Cogs have struggled with consistency, losing to Richmond-Burton last week before beating Rockford Christian on Monday.

4. Kaneland (12-7, 2-3 NI Big 12 East)

Coach Todd Weimer is encouraged by his team’s fight early on.

5. Hinckley-Big Rock (7-7, 3-2 Little Ten Conference)

The Royals moved up the charts with wins over Indian Creek and Hiawatha.

6. Indian Creek (7-8, 2-3 LTC)

The T-Wolves swept Leland-Earlville last week.

7. Hiawatha (5-9, 1-3 LTC)

The Hawks made an impressive run before losing to LaMoille and H-BR.

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