Illiana Christian seniors Kylie Van Roekel and Tina Massey have an extensive history attacking the net in tandem.
“It helps that we’ve played club (volleyball) together for a long time,” Van Roekel said. “We feed off each other really well.”
Their chemistry was evident Tuesday night as Roekel and Massey took turns dominating the frontcourt during Illiana’s 25-17, 25-16 win over Bremen in the Class 3A Rich East Sectional semifinals.
Illiana Christian (21-16) will meet Chicago Christian at 7 p.m. Thursday for the sectional title.
Roekel totaled nine kills and added four blocks while Massey notched eight kills and two aces. Setter Hannah Wegner (14 assists) took turns feeding the pair.
“Kylie’s energy keeps me going,” Massey said, admittedly the more reserved player of the effective duo. “She gets my excitement for me when I get a kill.”
Up 5-3 in the opening game, Massey buried consecutive kills before Van Roekel added a stuff block for an 8-3 lead. A few points later, Massey and Van Roekel added kills for a 12-5 lead as the match quickly got out of hand for Bremen.
“We talk in practice about overcoming fear and worry,” Van Roekel said. “We want to encourage each other. You can do all the (correct) mechanics, but it has to come from the heart.”
Bremen (14-19) struggled from the start passing the ball, which took a serious toll on its ability to muster an attack. The Braves finished the match with just eight kills. Jamie Duckwall led the offense with four kills.
“Our serve-receive was awful,” Bremen coach Jessica Rucinski said. “If we don’t give our setter a ball she can work with, we’re not going to get a good set. It all trickles down from there. The fact that we only had eight kills for the match ... if we can’t pass, that’s it.”