HAMPSHIRE – Despite Sycamore’s impressive regular-season record and the Northern Illinois Big 12 East co-championship, the Spartans were forced to play in a rare regional quarterfinal Monday.
“You know what, you have to play the hand that’s dealt to you, and we know that,” Sycamore coach Debbie Klock said. “We didn’t start out our season well and we’ve been proving ourselves ever since, and they’re OK with that.”
Monday’s Class 3A Hampshire quarterfinal against the host Whip-Purs didn’t prove to be too challenging for Klock’s Spartans. Sycamore got off to an early lead in Game 1, then had a quick 10-point lead in Game 2, eventually leaving Hampshire with a 25-16, 25-11 win.
The third-seeded Spartans (24-13) advance to today’s regional semifinal, where they will play No. 2 Burlington Central at 7 p.m.
Senior outside hitter Hannah Knox led Sycamore with 10 kills and 10 digs. Brittany Huber had seven kills and eight digs for the Spartans, while Christina Dailey added eight digs and two aces. Ratasha Garbes finished with seven digs, and Mattie Hayes had four kills.
To Knox, having to play in a regional quarterfinal just serves as more of a reason teams should be looking out for the Spartans the rest of the week.
“I think it just gave us more motivation to play and be in the finals, and prove ourselves,” Knox said. “That we’re not a third seed.”
The Spartans didn’t play the Rockets this season, but Klock said she has a scouting report and a good amount of film on Burlington Central.
One thing is for sure, the Spartans will be riding a nice wave of momentum. One thing Knox said her team was able to do well Monday was use better communication on the court, something she thought Sycamore hasn’t done as well lately.
“I think we just talked a lot, because we’ve been struggling with that for the last couple games,” Knox said. “We just really gelled tonight.”
Cogs swept by St. Edward: Genoa-Kingston coach Keith Foster has worked with a young team this season as the Cogs boast just three seniors.
Monday, Foster’s youthful G-K squad saw its season end with a 25-20, 25-16 loss to St. Edward in the Hampshire Regional quarterfinal
Both of Foster’s setters, Bridget Halat and Brea Rogalla, are sophomores. While the fourth-seeded Cogs end their season at 19-17 after their first-round loss, Foster realizes his team has a good future ahead with Halat and Rogalla running the offense.
“You’re looking at a year where you’re building. We felt we had the talent to do better, we didn’t really feel that this year was a building year,” Foster said. “However, when you look at it in a positive note, we’ve got two more years running this same offense with the same quarterbacks of the team. We’re enthusiastic about our future.”
Rogalla had seven assists in Monday’s loss. Olivia Cotton had 14 digs for G-K, while Lindsey Sunderlage had six kills with Cassidy Abraham adding three.
No. 5 St. Edward moves on to play top seed Kaneland at 6 p.m. today.