Richmond-Burton’s Mike Kamholz led the the Rockets to a 12-4 record in his first season as head coach in the COVID-19 shortened spring – with the team’s only two Kishwaukee River Conference losses against champion Woodstock North.
So far, this year has been anything but smooth sailing for R-B (7-12).
“It’s not what we thought it would be at this point,” Kamholz said. “Last year we were 12-4 and coming off that, we graduated an outside hitter and a setter. We expected to be in a much better position, but we’ll adjust, we’ll grow, and hopefully we’ll be stronger because of the struggles if we just keep pushing.
“This team has lots of potential.”
R-B graduated outside hitter Jordyn Duncan and setter Jesse Klicker, both all-KRC selections last season, but has two of the KRC’s top young hitters in sophomore Maggie Uhwat and freshman Elissa Furlan.
Junior Kaitlyn Lehecka had a big performance in a 25-22, 25-19 win over Marengo last week after R-B got off to a slow start. Her serving was a big boost and helped the Rockets get back on track for the critical KRC win.
“Kaitlyn on her serves, she did a great job there, and she did a great job on her hits,” Kamholz said. “I know she doesn’t get many [hitting] opportunities but she makes use out of what she does get, which is always a benefit to us.”
The Rockets went 1-4 at the Hampshire Invitational over the weekend but one of those wins came against KRC rival Woodstock. R-B lost to Woodstock later in the tournament, but is 2-1 against the Blue Streaks this season.
The Rockets bounced back in a big way with a 25-19, 24-26, 25-20 win against Wauconda (15-6) on Tuesday and return to KRC play this week.
“I’m hoping we can beat [KRC leader] Woodstock North and beat our rivals,” Uhwat said after the win against Marengo. “We still want to win conference. We still have a lot to play for.”
Honoring veterans: McHenry honored 23 veterans before their match against Dundee-Crown on Sept. 9 and, along with the Warriors football team, helped raise about $1,000 for McHenry VFW Post 4600 with a car wash fundraiser on Sept. 11.
Veterans were escorted onto the court by Warriors players, introduced and recognized for their service before the playing of the national anthem. Each veteran was admitted to the match for free and signed a wooden flag as a keepsake.
“It was such a special night for our players, the fans and especially the veterans,” Warriors coach Hilary Agnello said.
Calm but effective: Crystal Lake South senior Jessie Proszenyak always seems to come though with a clutch point when the Gators need one. That was the case Tuesday in a 16-25, 25-22, 25-21 win over Huntley, which helped keep South alone atop the Fox Valley Conference standings.
If Proszenyak is ever nervous in a close match, you could never tell.
South coach Jorie Fontana said Proszenyak has really grown into her own this season and is one of the calming influences on the court for the Gators. That also was the case with Jessie’s older sister, Jordan, a 2017 grad.
“If you would have seen Jordan play, she was very the spitting image of Jessie,” Fontana said. “And I see a lot of the two of them together, but Jessie does some things that make her her own person out there. She got to watch her sister in tough matches in this gym and kind of learned from all of that, too.”
Swing away: Marengo came out swinging in its two-set loss to R-B last week, but the energy and effort from the Indians, who led almost the whole first set, wasn’t lost on coach Rayne Hoey.
“These girls are so much fun, I love them to death,” Hoey said. “I’m always impressed with them. I always tell them, ‘As long as you stay aggressive, I’m never going to be mad.’ Starting off that strong and just going with the flow for the first set, the first 15 or 20 points, I was really impressed with them.”
The Indians were 6-7 in the spring and brought back eight from varsity. Hoey, in her third year as head coach, already has seen a lot of improvement from her players and appreciates the familiar routines of the traditional fall season.
“It was kind of weird trying to find that energy again [from spring], but having football games and everything back is a lot of fun for them,” Hoey said. “[Setter] Addie Johnson is a big leader on the court, off the court, everywhere. My twins, Gianna and Michaela [Almeida], they are just powerhouses on that outside; and Mia Lulinski has been our blocking queen. It’s been a lot of fun to watch them grow.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle