February 22, 2024
Sports - McHenry County

Sports - McHenry County

High school volleyball insider: Dundee-Crown’s Ali Buckley athlete of the week; rankings; more

Ali Buckley, Dundee-Crown, sr., S

Athlete of the Week

Ali Buckley

Dundee-Crown, sr., S

Buckley helped lead the Chargers to second place Saturday in the Pass, Set & Spike Tournament in West Chicago with 96 assists, 18 digs and 10 kills. D-C went 3-2 with wins against Larkin, Bartlett and West Chicago, but the Chargers lost to St. Viator in pool play and again in the championship.

The senior setter passed out 28 more assists in a 23-25, 25-22, 25-8 Fox Valley Conference win Tuesday over McHenry, moving the Chargers to 3-3 in FVC play.

Northwest Herald Power Rankings

(Through Sunday)

1. Marian Central (11-0): The Hurricanes improved to 11-0, beating Marist, 17-25, 25-21, 25-22, in their East Suburban Catholic Conference opener and adding a nonconference victory against Johnsburg. The Hurricanes play Carmel in their second ESCC match Tuesday.

2. Prairie Ridge (5-0): The Wolves are undefeated with all of their wins coming in the FVC. They beat Dundee-Crown last week in straight sets. They’ll face Jacobs on Tuesday and Crystal Lake Central on Thursday and will compete in the Wheaton Warrenville South Classic on Wednesday and Saturday.

3. Crystal Lake Central (8-3): The Tigers are rolling, winning five of six, and are 5-1 in the FVC with their only loss coming against Huntley, 25-23, 28-26, in the season opener. They face D-C on Tuesday and Prairie Ridge on Thursday.

4. Huntley (4-1): The Red Raiders suffered their first loss of the season to Cary-Grove, 21-25, 26-24, 25-22, but bounced back with a sweep of Hampshire. They’ll continue FVC play with McHenry on Tuesday and Crystal Lake South on Thursday.

5. Dundee-Crown (6-5): The Chargers lost to Prairie Ridge in two but beat McHenry and were second at the West Chicago Tournament over the weekend. They are 3-3 in the FVC with a big test against Crystal Lake Central on Tuesday. Emma Brant had 38 kills and 11 blocks at West Chicago.


Nationally ranked: Marian Central senior setter McKayla Wuensch said before the start of the season the Hurricanes were embracing the target as defending Class 3A state champions. With an 11-0 start, Marian entering Monday had won 19 straight matches dating to last year.

Their impressive start has them ranked No. 15 in the country by MaxPreps.com. No. 13 Geneva is the only other team from Illinois that appears on the top-25 list.

Wuensch (team-leading 255 assists) and Sydney Nemtuda (team-leading 104 kills) were on PrepVolleyball.com's Pre-Season All-American Watch list.

Moving forward: Crystal Lake South coach Jorie Fontana talked to her team at length last week after a 25-23, 25-12 FVC loss to Crystal Lake Central – a match in which the Gators jumped out to an early lead, played point-for-point with the Tigers in the first set and faded in the second.

Her message?

"You can lose, yes, but you don't have to be OK with it," Fontana said. "How does that fuel you to the next practice, the next match."

South, which has alternated losses and wins in its first five matches, can jump back into the FVC race in the next couple of weeks with four out of their next five matches (all conference) at home, including four straight.

They enter the week as one of three FVC teams, along with D-C and C-G, with three conference losses.

"We knew this team was going to be a before and an after picture," Fontana said. "They started, and some of them are young, and they're just kind of coming together. Mentally, they need to be more competitive. That first set ... it was a reward for us. We came out great, but I hope they realize that's what it takes all the time. And I think they needed that message."

This week's top matches

Crystal Lake Central at Prairie Ridge

6 p.m. Thursday

Two of the early leaders in the FVC meet for the first of two conference matches. The Wolves handed the Tigers their only two conference losses last season.

Huntley at Crystal Lake South

6 p.m. Thursday

The Red Raiders and Gators tied for second in the FVC Valley Division last season. Huntley is coming off its first conference loss and is 4-1 in the FVC, and the Gators are looking to improve on a 2-3 start.

Alex Kantecki

Alex Kantecki

Alex is a sports writer for the Northwest Herald.