HUNTLEY – The Red Raiders felt their chance slipping away Monday night.
Huntley lost the first set, and coach Karen Naymola called a timeout with her team trailing, 21-16, in the second set. It was her last timeout.
“I promise you," Naymola told her team. "If you can pull out this game and come back, I promise you, you will win this match."
Huntley won one point. Then another.
With each point, the home crowd grew louder and louder until Sarah Zayas’ ace gave Huntley its ninth consecutive point – and the set. The Red Raiders went on to beat St. Charles North, 23-25, 25-21, 25-21, in the IHSA Class 4A Huntley Sectional semifinals.
“I knew that they’d have the confidence again and the momentum,” Naymola said. “They’re that type of team. They just have to play with confidence.”
Huntley (35-3) advances to face St. Charles East (24-14) for the sectional championship at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Huntley. St. Charles East defeated Belvidere North, 25-20, 25-27, 25-19, in Monday’s other sectional semifinal.
Huntley mounted its second-set comeback after blowing a 23-18 lead in the first set. St. Charles North (31-7) won seven consecutive points to take the first.
“We just didn’t push,” junior Taylor Jakubowski said. “We didn’t play our game. We didn’t stay together. We knew, second set, it had to change somehow.”
Jakubowski recorded 38 assists in the match, along with 22 digs. Julia Johnson led the team with 17 kills, while Loren Alberts and Emma Konie each had eight. Zayas contributed 23 digs.
“Taylor did a fantastic job distributing the sets,” Naymola said. “We knew we had to force our middles tonight. Marissa Deem [seven kills] and Loren Alberts did a fantastic job getting in the middle and staying consistent for us.”
The Red Raiders did their best not to panic when they fell behind. Naymola called the first-set loss “disheartening.” Then the script flipped, and it was St. Charles North experiencing a sinking feeling.
“We dominated until we got to 21,” North Stars coach Lindsey Hawkins said. “We knew it was going to be like supersectional-, state championship-quality volleyball. Back and forth, point to point, and it was going to be the team that made fewer errors tonight. Unfortunately, we made a few more errors than they did down the stretch.”
St. Charles North’s Gigi Crescenzo and Katie Lanz came up with some timely kills to keep the North Stars in the third set after Huntley led, 7-2, early. The North Stars rallied to within a point at 22-21 before Huntley put the game away.
Huntley will try to win its first sectional championship since 2001 on Wednesday.
“I have no words,” Jakubowski said. “We wanted to get to this game and go to the next one, just keep going.”
STAR OF THE MATCH
Huntley, jr., S
Jakubowski tallied 38 assists and 22 digs in Huntley’s sectional semifinal victory over St. Charles North.
9: Huntley won nine straight points to take the second set, 25-21, after trailing 21-16.
AND ANOTHER THING …
Huntley won its 22nd consecutive match. A loss in the first set Monday snapped a streak of 42 consecutive set victories.