SANDWICH – Sycamore volleyball isn’t used to playing in the regional quarterfinals. But as the No. 3 seed in a six-team regional the Spartans had an extra playoff match against Sandwich on Monday.
Sycamore made good use of it, serving up 11 aces and cruising to a 25-10, 25-18 victory over host Sandwich. The Spartans (14-17) will play Rock Falls in the regional semifinals at 7 p.m. today.
“We’re used to this gym. It was sort of difficult to get used to at first, but now we have that under our belts,” senior libero Christina Dailey said. “We’ve played in here once, we’ve got one win down, lots more to go.”
Sycamore’s Jenee Carlson started the match off with an ace, a sign of good things to come for the Spartans, who never trailed in the first game. Back-to-back kills from Mallory Wolf and Gabrielle Wenger gave the Spartans a 17-8 lead before Sandwich called its second timeout.
A kill from Emily Young and a tip from Kendra Larson closed out game one for Sycamore, which only recorded four hitting errors in the first game.
“We could’ve practiced, but at this point in the season ... it’s just nice to have to say ‘Hey, this is what we have to do today,’ “ Nore said. “ ‘Let’s come out, we have to play.’ “
Sandwich battled Sycamore in game two, tying the Spartans, 8-8, on consecutive kills from Ashley Jones. But Sycamore sided out on a kill from Young and then Young followed with four consecutive aces.
“When we’re serving really well, we’re a really good team I think,” Dailey said. “That’s when we’re at our strongest, when we’re serving at our best.”
Sycamore wouldn’t relinquish the lead and the Spartans closed out the match in two games, even getting valuable playing time for its younger players off the bench in the match’s closing points.
Young led the Spartans with six kills while Mattie Hayes recorded five. Larson also dished out 18 assists for Sycamore, which won 12 of the final 18 points.
“It’s a good situation to be on an upswing right now,” Nore said. “It’s all about now. Can you hit the right stride at the right time?”