ROCKFORD – DeKalb volleyball coach Ben Fisher said Huntley couldn’t do anything wrong in Thursday’s Class 4A Rockford Jefferson Regional final.
Fisher’s Barbs were on the wrong end of the Red Raiders’ breakout performance as Huntley earned a sectional spot with a 25-17, 24-26, 25-13 win.
“One of the best matches I’ve seen played by them all season. I’ve watched a lot of film, I’ve seen them play a few times,” Fisher said. “One of the best matches they’ve played all season long. They deserve all the credit in the world. No matter what we threw at them they dug it. No matter what we served at them, they passed it.”
DeKalb (30-7) just couldn’t get into a groove as the Red Raiders (24-13) had three players with at least six kills. Emily Westermeyer led Huntley with nine kills, and Rachael Kisten and Erin Lyman added six apiece.
“We planned for them yesterday, all practice, to figure out where they’re going to hit, what they’re going to do,” DeKalb senior setter Madison Lord said. “They just came out here, played really well. We played good, but they played better.”
Huntley closed Game 1 on a 6-1 run, and it looked like the Red Raiders would sweep the Barbs, holding a 23-20 lead in the second game. DeKalb’s Kate Hickey had a kill to tie the score at 24, and the Barbs forced a third game on back-to-back kills by Courtney Wagner and Courtney Bemis.
“We have five seniors on the court for three out of the six rotations. It just kind of kicked in that we didn’t want to lose that quickly,” Lord said.
“We weren’t going to give up so easily, we knew that we could fight back, we knew that we could play well, we knew that we could take a set from them,” Lord continued.
In the third game, the Barbs’ momentum didn’t continue, as Huntley got off to an 8-2 lead and didn’t hold back.
Lord would finish the match with 25 assists. Wagner had a team-high 10 kills and added six blocks, while Bemis finished with eight kills and an ace. Nicole Schladt added 10 digs.
Fisher said his team had a letdown in the third set, but said the Barbs showed a lot of character in the Game 2 comeback.
“We were dead in the water,” he said. “For us to fight back and win that second set and not give up, I was extremely proud of them, extremely pleased with how they played tonight.”