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Taking it in two: Volleyball wins first regional match against Jacobs

Volleyball players Sydney Holt, Kelsey DeWulf, Ally Dion, and Lexi Smith celebrate a kill made by Erin Erb during the regional game against Jacobs.
Volleyball players Sydney Holt, Kelsey DeWulf, Ally Dion, and Lexi Smith celebrate a kill made by Erin Erb during the regional game against Jacobs.

A cocktail of sounds ranging from parents chatting to screams from Raider Nation to distract the opposing team’s server echo throughout the East Gym. However, even with the overwhelming clamor, senior Kelsey DeWulf can only hone in on the familiar voices of her teammates.

As her team settles into their positions to receive the next serve, DeWulf tugs on her jersey to conceal the hand gestures signaling the plays she plans to set for her hitters. She calls each hitter’s name, makes eye contact with them to make sure they know what to expect, and finally turns to watch the serve. As soon as the ball is hit over, she executes her plan and her hitters respond accordingly, resulting in another point for the Red Raiders.

“Our greatest strength was probably our communication and serve-receive,” said DeWulf. “[The teammates] were talking a lot and passing the ball well.”

Playing against long-time rival Jacobs, the Huntley volleyball team dominated the regional opening game by winning the match in two games. The first game concluded in a score of 25-15 and the second game followed with an even more impressive score of 25-9.

Going into the game, the Raiders’ biggest concern was Jacobs’ two strongest outside hitters. However, one of those hitters was injured this game, easing any worries the team had while boosting its confidence.

The Jacobs team still proved to pose a threat with its scrappy play and strategic placement of tips and freeballs. The Raiders adapted quickly and responded by picking up almost every ball on defense and attacking with even harder hits on offense.

“When we struggle, most teams know we’re going to our outside,” said coach Karen Naymola. “We were able to get everyone involved in our offense tonight.”

The team played exceptionally well due to its unpredictable offense, featuring attacks from all hitters in the front row and back row.

“I think my personal strength tonight was running my offense and changing up my sets,” said DeWulf.

Sophomore Ally Dion had seven kills, leading the team with junior Erin Erb following close behind her with six. Senior Haley Arnieri led the team with 19 digs. Sophomore Caitlin Thorelius scored three aces with her powerful and precise serves.

The Raiders take on DeKalb for the Regional Championship on Thursday, Oct. 30, in the East Gym. In order to prepare for the big match, the team plans on brushing up its defense to match the threat of its offense. Other than that, the Raiders have much confidence in themselves as long as they keep up their intensity.

“The girls are playing extremely well right now,” said Naymola. “We know if we just come out and play well, we’re a tough team to beat.”

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