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Girls Volleyball: Kaneland advances to regional finals

St. Edward's MariVAhnen has her shot blocked by Kaneland's Lauren Banbury Tuesday Hampshire.  | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media

St. Edward's Maria Von Ahnen has her shot blocked by Kaneland's Lauren Banbury on Tuesday in Hampshire. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media

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It has been so long since Kaneland has won a volleyball regional that none of its players had even been born since the last time it had happened.

The dry spell without a postseason plaque dates back to 1991, but the Knights have a chance to change that at 6 p.m. on Thursday when they play rival Sycamore for the title at the Class 3A Hampshire Regional title.

The Knights’ locked in their spot in the final with a 25-17, 25-18 win over St. Edward. Meanwhile, Sycamore took down Burlington Central 25-23, 25-21.

“The postseason has not been nice to us,” said Kaneland coach Todd Weimer. “We have played some tough opponents, but we were determined, focused and relaxed, and that was the key.”

Seeded first in the regional, Kaneland (22-12) didn’t have an easy time with the Green Wave, especially in Game two. The teams alternated the first 13 points of the game, and it was tied as late at 15-all. But the Knights then rolled off 10 of the next 13 points to close out the match.

Keri Groen had seven kills in the match, but came up big at the end of the second game as she notched kills on three of the Knights’ final five points. The hitting was spread around, though, as Ellie Dunn also had seven kills and Lyndi Scholl picked up five. Shayna Tucek led the way defensively with 17 digs.

“We were going point for point (in the second game), like we have a tendency to do sometimes,” Scholl said. “In the end we got our stuff together, ball control was a huge key with serve and receive, and we were doing awesome at that. Then we were killing and making sure we found the open spots.”

The Green Wave, which finished 15-18, got four kills from Rena Ranallo and Shannon Igielski, 10 digs from Allison Kruk and 10 assists from Casey Gredzieleski.

“They were spread out from every angle,” said St. Edward coach Jaime Dovichi. “We hadn’t seen that fast of an offense this year, and the defense was trying to adjust and I think we did the best we could.”

In the other semifinal match, Sycamore took advantage of late runs in both games to knock out Burlington Central.

Central (25-11) led 17-14 in Game 1 before the Spartans responded with a 9-1 run to make pull out to a 23-18 lead. The Rockets rallied back to trail 24-23 on a kill by Lauren Wiltsie, but could not get closer as Sycamore got the final point to close out the game.

The Rockets then fell behind by as many as six in the second game, but Bouza picked up kills on the next three points to close it to 23-21. Sycamore then scored the next two points to win the match.

“We had a few problems stopping runs throughout the year,” said Central coach Marv Leavitt. “We were right in there and I’m proud of my group of 5-foot-9-and-under players.”

Jenna Schudel had eight kills to pace Central, while Wiltsie and Bouza added six apiece. Bouza had four blocks and Allie O’Reilly contributed 25 digs.



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