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Kaneland's back in conference volleyball hunt

DeKALB – Kaneland volleyball coach Todd Weimer fielded a question from some of his players that made him realize how young his team is and how long it had been since his squad had beaten DeKalb.

“The girls had to ask me, ‘So, when’s that last time we beat DeKalb?’ ” Weimer said.

The answer was three years ago, before most of Weimer’s young group was in high school.

For at least a few years, Weimer won’t have to answer that question after the Knights beat DeKalb, 25-20, 29-31, 25-20  on Tuesday in DeKalb.

“It’s big to get that monkey off of our back,” Weimer said.

Heading into the 2012 season, Weimer thought this year would be a difficult one.

At that point, contending for a Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference title seemed like a goal that was better left for next season.

Now, the Knights (15-9, 4-3 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) are right in the thick of the NI Big 12 East race, with three matches remaining.

“We’ve come so far,” sophomore Ellie Dunn said. “We had a mix of girls come in this year, and we worked so hard to maintain our team basically as a family. We had some changes, some injured players, and I think we did really well.”

Kaneland scored the last five points to win a back-and-forth first game, but DeKalb (25-7, 4-3) looked like it had taken control early in the second, going on six and seven-point runs to cruise to an 18-10 lead. 

But the Knights charged back to tie the game, behind three kills from Lyndi Scholl to put pressure on the Barbs, who eventually pulled out the second game, 31-29.

The momentum Kaneland built carried over, and the Knights pulled off the upset behind six fourth-set blocks, most of which senior Keri Groen had a hand in.

“It was a good feeling,” Groen said. “It wasn’t just me, though, everyone was doing great on blocking.”

The loss was DeKalb’s second in a row in conference play.

“We didn’t do anything good tonight,” Fisher said. “We’ve got to figure out how to get out of this … It’s been a really, really tough last couple of matches.”

Kaneland has won two consecutive games in conference play after knocking off Morris last Thursday.

Tuesday’s win cemented what Weimer began to realize through a strong conference season – this Kaneland team doesn’t have to wait a year to contend for an NI Big 12 East title.

“Initially, I thought it was a rebuilding year, but it’s definitely not,” Weimer said. “It’s just another great season at Kaneland. We must be doing something right with our volleyball program because we’re just playing consistent, competitive volleyball.”

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