Genoa-Kingston libero Olivia Cotton has been looking forward to the chance to play against Burlington Central ever since the Cogs lost to the Rockets on Sept. 10.
The junior hasn’t beaten Central in her three-year varsity career, and the Cogs view today’s game as a benchmark for their program, which Keith Foster has rebuilt during his three-year tenure.
“There is no match Olivia Cotton wants to win more than this match,” Foster said. “It’s a very important match to her. The first one was, and this one was also. Hopefully our team will rally behind one of our captains and will really battle.”
Foster knows full-well that his team doesn’t have the tradition that Burlington Central volleyball has built.
But he thinks his team finally has the ability to compete.
“They’re a strong program,” coach Keith Foster said. “The greatest respect I can give to [coach] Marv [Leavitt] is bringing a team that has the ability to battle them, and we have that team this year.”
Hiawatha playing without a libero
Hiawatha head coach Jenna Araujo wanted her best defensive players to play in the front row, so she decided her team would play without a libero this season.
The libero can sub in at any time but can only play in the back row.
“We just felt at the beginning of the season that we have a lot of players who can play multiple positions,” Araujo said. “A lot of my players that would be capable of playing in the back row do a decent job of playing in the front row as well, so I didn’t want to stick just one person in the defensive specialist area.”
VIEWS: DeKalb-Sycamore showdown has league implications
There may not have been a bigger DeKalb-Sycamore volleyball match in recent years than today’s rivalry game.
At the midway point in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East conference season, the race is tight after DeKalb ran away with the title in 2011.
Just one game behind the Barbs, Sycamore is showing that it is a legitimate contender.
With a senior-heavy team, the Spartans are 3-2 in NI Big 12 East play, and coach Debbie Klock thinks her team is ready to hang with DeKalb.
In order to beat the Barbs, setter Ratasha Garbes is going to have to be at the top of her game.
When the teams last met Sept. 11, the senior gave the Barbs problems, and DeKalb coach Ben Fisher said she was the best setter his team had played against up to that point.
A victory would be the first in five matches against DeKalb for the Spartans, and it would signal another change in the tide after Sycamore won the previous 25 matches.
A win for the Barbs could signal a continued dominance that might not stop for a couple seasons. The Barbs are a young group and a season sweep of a veteran Sycamore team could mean future success.
With Yorkville sitting at 4-1 alongside DeKalb, a win today wouldn’t put either team in the driver’s seat in the NI Big 12 East just yet.
But a victory for either team could go a long way to deciding the conference race in the end.
IN THE GROOVE
Madison Lord, DeKalb, junior, setter
Hitter Courtney Bemis stands out for the Barbs with her height and timely kills, but Lord is the proverbial point guard of the DeKalb offense and one of the leaders of the team.
As a sophomore, the setter started on a senior-laden team to help DeKalb to a conference championship, and this year, she may just do the same thing as a junior.
WHAT TO WATCH
Sycamore at DeKalb, today, 6 p.m.
The biggest area rivalry may prove to be a crucial game in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East race.
Genoa-Kingston at Burlington Central, today, 6 p.m.
The Cogs view this conference match as a benchmark for their recently revived program.
1. DeKalb (21-4, 4-1Northern Illinois Big 12 East)
The Barbs won NI Big 12 crossover matches against Ottawa and Geneseo.
2. Sycamore (9-5, 3-2 NI Big 12 East)
The Spartans swept Dixon last Thursday.
3. Genoa-Kingston (16-9, 6-2 Big Northern Conference East)
The Cogs beat North Boone this week and have their biggest match of the season against Burlington Central coming up today.
4. Kaneland (12-7, 2-3 NI Big 12 East)
The Knights lost to former Western Sun Conference rival, Geneva after leading, 21-14 in the third game, last week.
5. Indian Creek (10-8, 2-3 LTC)
The Timberwolves upset LaMoille in the first round of the LTC tournament.
6. Hinckley-Big Rock (8-8, 3-2 LTC)
The Royals moved on to the consolation finals of the LTC tournament.
7. Hiawatha (5-11, 1-3 LTC)
Coach Jenna Araujo said the Hawks played well in spurts in a loss to Somonauk.