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PREP GIRLS VOLLEYBALL INSIDER: Sycamore aggressive with serve

Alyssa Maillefer bumps the ball in the second of two games between DeKalb and Sycamore on Sept. 17.
Alyssa Maillefer bumps the ball in the second of two games between DeKalb and Sycamore on Sept. 17.

When Sycamore jumped out to early leads against DeKalb and Kaneland, aggressive serving was a big part of it.

Very rarely did the Spartans lob serves over the net just to put them in play. It’s a philosophy Nore has instilled since the start of the season when he took note of his personnel.

“We’re not big and we’re not as physical as some of these other teams, we have to get them out of serve-receive,” Sycamore coach Eric Nore said. “I told them I said we’re going to be an aggressive serving team, we’re going to make our mistakes.” 

Nore said most of his players have the freedom to go for bigger serves, but will occasionally make adjustments if they struggle during games.

“I very seldom, if ever, will tell them to dial it down,” Nore said.

Indian Creek’s big win: After going through a small losing streak, Indian Creek got a big win Tuesday against Hiawatha on the road. Although the Hawks are winless, the victory gave Indian Creek a boost.

“It’s something we needed for our confidence more than anything else,” Indian Creek coach Stephanie Crutcher said. “It’s playing with a lot more consistency. We served and played really well. I think we had four errors in that whole entire [first] game.”

Crutcher is still looking for more consistency out of her team. She’s seen flashes of great play – she singled out the first game of Monday’s loss to Byron – but wants to see it every play.

“The big thing is communication,” Crutcher said. “They realize how important it is, but they don’t carry it over to the court every play. That’s what’s been happening a lot.”

VIEWS: First-year coaches learn to handle NI Big 12 East

Sycamore and Kaneland met on Tuesday night for the first time this season, both looking markedly different from their 2012 versions.

At the center of both teams are a pair of first-year head coaches, each taking their first trip through the Northern Illinois Big 12 East and each still trying to get a hold of the teams they’re leading.

After Sycamore’s two-game loss to Kaneland on Tuesday, Sycamore coach Eric Nore and his players had a long talk, centered mostly around the team’s lack of intensity. After a strong start, Sycamore lost a late lead in the first game and Kaneland dominated the second game.

“I think we have the right plan, I think we have a solid core group of individuals that can get us through and have a good successful season, I just don’t know if we can keep handling these bumps the way we’ve been handling them,” Nore said. “We need to make a push here at some point to stop doing what we’re doing.” 

Kaneland has had its ups and downs early in the season as well. The Knights lost a tough three-game match to DeKalb after winning the first game and fell behind Sycamore early before rallying to get their second conference win.

“I also think we’re pretty young. I only have one senior…there’s a lot of game that has to be learned at this level and it’s still kind of early,” Kaneland coach Kerri McCastland said. “We’re learning every time. Every day is learning for us.”

The NI Big 12 East isn’t an easy place to enter the high school coaching ranks. Several teams field Division I recruits each year and the conference race is always competitive.

But as McCastland said, it’s still very early in the year and there is more than half of the conference season remaining. Both teams should be much better in only a month from now.

“I’m very grateful to be here,” McCastland said. “They want to learn, it’s a dream place to coach.” 

• Ross Jacobson is the sports editor of the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via email at and follow him on Twitter @RossJacobson.

Spotlight on...

Ellie Dunn

Junior, OH, Kaneland

Dunn led the Knights with six kills in a two-game win Tuesday over Sycamore.

What to watch

Yorkville at DeKalb, 6 p.m. today

The Barbs get their first shot at the defending co-Northern Illinois Big 12 East champions.

Hiawatha at Hinckley-Big Rock, 6:45 p.m. today

Hiawatha is still in search of its first victory and will have a chance to get in the win column when it travels to H-BR.


1. DeKalb (9-2, 3-0 NI Big 12 East) – The Barbs rolled over Rochelle in two games.

2. Genoa-Kingston (7-6, 3-2 Big Northern Conference East) –The Cogs challenged themselves with a match against DeKalb, and lost.

3. Kaneland (8-8, 2-1 NI Big 12 East) – The Knights showed moxie in a comeback win over Sycamore.

4. Hinckley-Big Rock (7-5-1, 2-1 Little Ten Conference) –The Royals won a nonconference match earlier this season against IMSA.

5. Sycamore (5-6, 1-2 NI Big 12 East) – The Spartans couldn’t hang on to lead in first game against Kaneland.

6. Indian Creek (3-7, 2-1 Little Ten) – The Timberwolves beat Hiawatha for their third win.

7. Hiawatha (0-8, 0-2 Little Ten) – The Hawks still trying to find first win.

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