HUNTLEY – Inside DeKalb’s huddle, players were singing.
Junior middle blocker Jasmine Kemp, who had four blocks for the Barbs volleyball team against Crystal Lake Central in the opening set of Thursday’s Class 4A Huntley Sectional final, was why.
“We were actually singing the ‘Brickhouse’ song,” first-year Barbs coach Jamie DiMaggio said. “She’s been sick for two weeks, and she just stomped them. It was cool to see her getting the movement down, and getting her hands on the ball. The girls were having a blast.”
Kemp triggered the Barbs defensively in the first set as fifth-seeded DeKalb outlasted No. 2 Crystal Lake Central, 25-23, 25-20, to capture the first sectional title in program history.
DeKalb (20-13) advances to Saturday’s Dundee-Crown Supersectional at 1 p.m. against Stevenson, which swept Libertyville, 26-24, 25-15, in the Class 4A Lakes Sectional championship match.
Kemp accounted for half of her team’s first eight points as DeKalb built an 8-4 lead in the first set.
“To be the first team means that we really worked hard for it,” Kemp said of winning a sectional title. “All the credit goes to the coaches for bringing this team together. I appreciate them a lot. Now we have to get in a lot of reps in practice and just go from there. We can only get better.”
Kemp, who also had three kills, had six of the eight team blocks for DeKalb. Junior outsider hitter Hannah Oehlberg recorded 13 kills on offense, senior setter Jacqueline Longeville dished out 17 assists and senior libero Abby Boyden had nine digs.
DiMaggio was unaware that the Barbs never had won a sectional volleyball title before Thursday until after Oehlberg put away the final point and the team posed for pictures with the plaque.
“It’s incredible, and I’m really lucky to be surrounded by such a great group of girls every day,” DiMaggio said. “They know what they want. They worked hard in the offseason, and they worked hard in practice. They play for each other, and we’re just taking it one day at a time, and enjoying our time together.”
DeKalb jumped out to a 7-3 advantage in the second set and later led, 17-14, but the Tigers (26-9) battled back to make it hard on the Barbs.
Central libero Kendall Lownds served two straight aces to pull the Tigers within a point, 18-17, and a kill by Madde Blake later cut DeKalb’s lead to 20-19, but the Barbs answered with five out of the final six points.
Oehlberg had nine of her 13 kills in the second set, including the match-winner set up by Longeville.
“Honestly, it’s awesome,” Longeville said. “It’s a great feeling to make history. I think we came out with just as much energy in the second set, and we knew that they (Central) were going to be out to get us and push back hard. We wanted to push back harder ... and we just finished.”
Blake, Camryn Hausler and Olivia Anderson (three blocks) led the Tigers with four kills apiece, Lownds had two aces and seven digs, Olivia Doak had 12 assists, and Emily Kelly added two aces and six digs.
“DeKalb runs a really quick attack, especially on the outside,” Central coach Lisa Brunstrum said. “We really struggled defensively getting set and stopped in our positions to really defend against that.”