MINOOKA – Plainfield North was ranked 53th nationally this preseason by prepvolleyball.com, and for one game Tuesday, the Tigers looked the part of a team clearly superior to Minooka.
In the second game, however, the Indians started to answer a North offense that had overwhelmed them at times in the first.
Their blocking helped them force a third game, and while North emerged with a 25-19, 19-25, 25-19 victory in the Southwest Prairie Conference opener, Minooka coach Chris Hoelscher was hopeful her team had turned a corner.
“We have been working on blocking an awful lot, because we’re so big,” Hoelscher said. “We need to use our size to our advantage, and we’ve been working on it, working on it, working on it. Maybe all the stuff in practice finally kicked in. I’m hoping so.”
The second game was tied at 17-17 when a Cynthia Ley sideout kill gave the Indians the lead for good. Skyler Day and Ley had solo blocks as Kelly Clucas served up two points to give Minooka some breathing room.
After sideout kills by North’s Dakota Santore and Clucas, Day served up three points in a row as Brenna Perinar provided one solo block and an assist during the stretch.
North got the serve back before Ginger Perinar put the Tigers away with a sideout kill.
Game 3 was decided during its early to middle stages.
The Tigers had already built a 9-6 lead when Allie Lindroth went to the service line. She produced a run of seven successive points, including four aces creating a lead that never shrunk below five points the rest of the way.
North also led from early in the first game, with Santore breaking open a 1-1 tie with five straight points.
“We didn’t know what to expect the first game, and we definitely came out ready to play more in the second set,” Jessica Karalow said.
“We definitely pressed more in the second set and got a lot more block touches. I definitely think that we showed people that since Lockport, we improved and we can definitely hang with people. So we’ll get ‘em next time.”
Day’s 13 kills led all players, but the Indians also got seven kills from Ginger Perinar and six from Karalow. Brenna Perinar had a Minooka-high six blocks. Clucas and Megan Bauer combined on 25 assists.
“Our setters do a very, very good job of moving the ball around, which is good,” Hoelscher said.
“It’s nice to have a big banger like Skyler, but it’s also easier for her if everybody else is involved in the offense, too. We haven’t always been able to do that.”