ALGONQUIN – In his first season with the DeKalb girls volleyball team, head coach Kyle Milborn is off to a solid start after Thursday night’s 26-24, 25-17 nonconference victory over Jacobs.
Milborn, who has been coaching since 2006 with stops at Club Fusion and Rockford Lutheran, was looking forward to seeing how his relatively inexperienced squad would handle a solid opponent in the first match of the season.
“We lost eight seniors from last year’s team, so experience was a big factor tonight to see how we would handle a varsity setting,” Milborn said. “I thought we did well with basically only three starters that are seniors, and the rest [that] are sophomores and juniors, so that was big.”
And so was DeKalb’s defense.
The Barbs (1-0) were all over the court.
Nicole Schladt, a key impact returner from last season, did her opponent no favors with a team-high eight digs. The defensive specialist was diving on nearly every rally, setting up players such as Kate Hickey to finish the job with a clutch spike or volley.
Hickey, a senior outside hitter, had a match-high nine kills, keeping Jacobs (1-1) on its heels. Hickey credited her team’s success to their ability to stay calm and ignore the first-match jitters.
“I think we just wanted to be relaxed and play our game because we lost a lot of people last year and it was like a new team, so we had to just focus on playing our game and just going out there and relaxing and just doing us.”
Relaxed sounds nice, but DeKalb looked anything but as players such as Heather Bemis and Kayla Schafer fiercely crowded the net, making block after block in the face of their opponent.
Jacobs, an efficient team with proven success, going 20-16 last year, was a big test for Milborn’s young team. They proved their worth in an exciting nonconference matchup. The Barbs will travel to play Libertyville on Friday.