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Volleyball notes: Woodstock North prepares for tough postseason assignment

After beating Johnsburg in two sets on Wednesday to capture at least a share of the Kishwaukee River Conference title, Woodstock North got a nice surprise less than an hour later when it learned Marengo knocked off Richmond-Burton, giving the Thunder the championship outright.

It was the second straight KRC championship for the Thunder (24-7), who have lost only one conference match over the past two years.

This year’s title felt a little more meaningful, however, given the short spring and how some teams were not always competing at full strength last season because of COVID-19 quarantine.

“I think it says a lot about this group,” Thunder coach Eric Schulze said after the win against Johnsburg. “They’ve been pretty good for a really long time and have had us competing at the the top of the [KRC] for the better part of 2 1/2 seasons.”

Next week, the Thunder will try to extend its regional title streak to three after winning Class 3A titles in both 2018 and 2019, the program’s first two postseason titles. There was no IHSA postseason last year because of the pandemic.

North’s path to a third straight regional title will not be easy, with the potential to see Fox Valley Conference champion Crystal Lake South in the final. North first meets Boylan in the semifinals.

“I think eight of the nine teams in our subsectional have winning records,” Schulze said. “And several of them are well beyond winning records. Obviously, Crystal Lake South and Belvidere North are tremendous teams. It’s going to be a heck of a challenge and we don’t really have a way to prepare for a team like that because we don’t play that level of competition every night.

“We’re going to try and fight, for sure. We’re going to do the best we can. But we’ve got to worry about whoever we play in the first round first and not assume we’ll get to see [Crystal Lake] South in the final.”

Kennedy chooses Michigan Tech: Cary-Grove’s Tricia Kennedy committed to NCAA Division II Michigan Tech on Monday after visiting the school for the first time in September. Kennedy, a junior middle blocker and right-side hitter for the Trojans, said the combination of academics and athletics really stood out at the school.

“I definitely liked how much the coaches value academics,” Kennedy said. “The coaches were constantly talking about how grades are important and how they want you to succeed in academics and volleyball. I want to do something with engineering with my degree. I’m really passionate about the environment.”

Michigan Tech competes in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and went 11-4 during last year’s COVID-19-shortened season, winning the regular-season conference title. Each year from 2017 to 2019, the Huskies finished with 20-plus wins and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

Kennedy said the coaches, players and community made her feel instantly comfortable.

“The people there were so nice and welcoming,” she said. “We went out to dinner and everyone was so friendly. Not everyone knew each other but everyone was so nice. Around here, we don’t really get that.”

Getting a chance to continue her volleyball career is a dream come true for Kennedy.

“Since I started playing volleyball, I’ve always dreamed of playing in college,” Kennedy said. “Now that I actually get to say that, it’s really exciting and really surreal. … I feel like I haven’t fully processed it yet.”

Almost 30: With its next three wins, Crystal Lake South (27-5) can reach 30 wins for the first time since it posted back-to-back seasons with that many or more wins in 2013 and 2014. The Gators, who clinched the FVC outright championship last week with wins against Crystal Lake Central and McHenry, finish the regular-season schedule Thursday at Huntley.

The last two times that South had 30 wins, also under coach Jorie Fontana, it won both regional and sectional titles.

The Gators are the No. 2 seed in the Class 3A Boylan Regional and begin postseason play Tuesday against No. 9 Harvard. They could face No. 3-seeded Woodstock North, the KRC champion, in the regional final on Thursday, Oct. 28.

Special moment: Crystal Lake Central setter Lauren Klutke, who has been out with an ACL injury since Sept. 30, was one of eight seniors to start for the Tigers on Tuesday against McHenry. It was the first game action for Klutke since her injury, as Central honored and celebrated senior night with a victory over the Warriors.

Klutke made the opening serve Tuesday, and although McHenry hit it back over the net for the first point, Tigers players, coaches and fans erupted in cheers for Klutke before she left the court.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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