MAPLE PARK – The confidence exuded by the DeKalb volleyball team is easy to pick up.
After a 5-0 weekend and a tournament championship, the Barbs continued their strong play of late with a 25-17, 25-15 win over Kaneland. The win put the Barbs (24-3, 7-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) that much closer to a conference championship and has them setting their sights on the postseason, which is just a few weeks away.
“This part of the season has been great for us. We’ve improved a lot,” senior outside hitter Abby Hickey said. “We’re finally getting to that point where we’re pushing to play for regionals and trying to go far in the playoffs.”
DeKalb dominated from the start of the first game on Kaneland’s Volley for the Cure night, which celebrated survivors of breast cancer and hoped to bring further awareness to the fight against the disease.
The Barbs ran off to an 8-2 lead after Nicole Schladt’s ace, forcing Kaneland to call a quick timeout. DeKalb remained in front by six when Madison Lord made a tough dig off a Kaneland serve that clipped the net and Courtney Bemis followed with a kill.
“They are starting to understand what the definition of little things is and they’re starting to understand that those things need to be done in order to play good volleyball,” DeKalb coach Ben Fisher said. “Before we weren’t doing that, we were giving those points away.”
While DeKalb rarely made mistakes, Kaneland (9-12, 3-4) had trouble finding its serve. Despite a small run midway through the first game that saw Ellie Dunn record back-to-back aces, Kaneland never got within three points after the first timeout in the first set.
Hitting errors continued for Kaneland in the second game, and Kaneland coach Kerri McCastland said her team’s performance was a total reversal from the well-played matches Kaneland competed in at its weekend tournament in Iowa.
“You’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game against a team like DeKalb,” McCastland said. “So many unforced errors, game one we rarely got the ball over the net on a serve.”
Courtney Bemis led the Barbs with seven kills while Hickey chipped in with five. Lord dished out 14 assists and Schladt had 10 digs. Heather Bemis had a pair of blocks and Wagner recorded two aces.
The Barbs host Rochelle while Kaneland plays Sycamore in Maple Park on Thursday.
“I’m happy with their mindset right now,” Fisher said. “They’re very relaxed, they’re playing well, they’re confident and we’re still working hard.”