Naperville North drops West Aurora in key DVC matchLauren Wilson (24) of West Aurora spikes the ball into the hands of Madison Murphy of Naperville North. Backing up the play are Kelsey Richmond (16) of West, and Christine Wu (7) of North. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 20, 2011 10:04PM
It was only the beginning, but it meant so much.
Squaring off Tuesday with visiting Naperville North in a battle of DuPage Valley Conference volleyball unbeatens, West Aurora couldn’t have gotten off to a much worse start. The Blackhawks made errors on six of their first seven serves.
“It was really frustrating,” West senior outside hitter Kelsey Richmond said. “We work on serves all the time in practice and we usually get them over, but tonight we just didn’t do it. I don’t know what was wrong.”
Naperville North (13-3, 5-0) then capitalized with its balanced attack and strong defense to claim a 25-18, 25-18 decision that drops the Blackhawks to 14-7 and 4-1.
Despite the early errors, West countered with strong play off Huskie serves and actually led 6-5 before the visitors reeled off an 8-1 run to take control. North led by as many as seven points three times, the last at 21-14 before the hosts rallied to within 21-18.
The Huskies then got back-to-back blocks for kills from senior middle Madison Murphy (7 kills) and took advantage of a net violation and hitting error from West to close it out.
“It’s hard to battle back when you give someone seven points,” West coach Kari Nicholson said. “We were ready to play them and excited to play them. I don’t know if we were too excited or what, we just couldn’t execute.”
The second game was back-and-forth with five ties, the last coming at 12-all, as the Blackhawks cut their service errors from seven in Game 1 to one.
West junior Lauren Carlini, adjusting to the visitors’ strong block keyed by 6-foot-1 middles Murphy and 6-1 Bailey O’Drobinak along with outside hitters Sami Scroggins, Corinne Gajcak and Ashley Crawford, dropped her third tip kill of the game into an open spot to pull the Blackhawks within 16-15.
The Huskies then closed out the game with a 9-3 run, capped by back-to-back kills from Scroggins (9 kills) off assists from setter Christine Wu.
“We do have a lot of great hitters,” said Wu, who dished out 22 assists. “I just try to mix up the offense to keep the other side playing honest defense.”
She said the Huskies were very much aware of the talents of the Wisconsin-bound Carlini.
“A couple of our girls have played club with her. Obviously, she’s a tremendous player, both setting and hitting,” Wu said. “We knew she was gonna be a threat but we knew if we played our game, pass the ball, set the ball and hit well, as a team we could come out on top. I just tried to keep away from Lauren because she’s one of the best blockers in the state.”
Carlini finished with a match-high 10 kills and added seven assists. Peyton McKenzie added six kills and Richmond five for the Blackhawks, who got 10 assists from junior Leslie Martin.
“Their defense was great,” said Carlini. “Their libero (Colleen Larson) got almost every ball set up.”
Larson finished with 17 digs and had a great game, said North coach Jennifer Urban.
“I thought our block tonight got some real good touches at the net and even when they weren’t getting the block, they were either channeling the ball to our defenders or getting good touches, which helped our defense tremendously,” Urban said.