JOHNSBURG – The first set between Johnsburg and Richmond-Burton was one-sided in favor of the Rockets, but the Skyhawks remained unfazed and upbeat.
“We had a lot of energy in the second set; we didn’t at first” Johnsburg junior Kaylee Fouke said. “We realized talking more made [R-B] quiet and made them mess up. The louder we got, the better we got.”
The Skyhawks shrugged off the first set and came back to top the Rockets 14-25, 25-17, 25-16, handing R-B its first conference loss of the season and ending a five-game Richmond-Burton winning streak.
Johnsburg (13-4, 3-2 KRC) likely needed a win to stay alive in the conference race. After Tuesday’s matches, R-B (11-5) and Woodstock North are tied for first in the KRC at 4-1. Johnsburg still plays R-B and Woodstock North one more time each.
The Skyhawks didn’t get discouraged after dropping the first set against R-B. Johnsburg was dancing in between sets, and there still were plenty of smiles.
“We really wanted to win this to show that we can do it,” Skyhawks senior Emmy Wizceb said. “Everybody brought the energy today, and we were so excited with the results. After the first set, we knew we were going to three. In our heads, we knew we wanted it more than them.”
“We saw their energy was down, and we knew we could use that to our advantage.”
Richmond-Burton had a quick first set, tallying nine aces against the Skyhawks. In the second set, the Skyhawks went up 16-14 on a block by Wizceb and pushed it to 21-15 on three consecutive kills by Fouke. R-B ended the set on back-to-back errors.
In the third, Johnsburg pulled away from R-B after the teams were tied at 9-all. The Skyhawks scored eight straight points for a 17-9 lead and led by as many as 11 points.
Johnsburg switched its lineup in the second and third sets, moving Wizceb from right-side to outside, which helped open blocking against R-B’s Elissa Furlan (10 kills, five aces, seven digs, two blocks) and Maggie Uhwat (nine kills, two blocks), the Rockets’ two biggest hitters.
Fouke finished with a team-high four blocks along with five kills, and Wizceb tallied eight kills and two blocks. Delaney Stern contributed 18 assists and 10 digs, Sophie Person added four kills, and Lila Duck had four kills and a pair of aces.
Richmond-Burton coach Mike Kamholz said a few of his players were feeling under the weather Tuesday, which might have led to less energy from his side in the second and third sets. Still, he felt the Skyhawks executed their game plan perfectly.
Alexandra Hopp had 18 assists and four aces for R-B, Madi Havlicek added four kills and four digs, and Kaitlyn Lehecka had two kills and two aces.
“They knew where we were going, and they knew how we were going to do it,” Kamholz said. “They stopped our attack. And once they were able to do that, they kind of controlled the tempo and what was going on, which left us running and scrambling instead of us being in control.
“I thought they did really well knowing where we were going, and not only knowing where but how to block them, because they were all over our hitters.”
Richmond-Burton hosts Woodstock on Thursday, while Johnsburg plays at home against Harvard.
Fouke said Tuesday’s win gives the Skyhawks plenty of confidence heading into the rest of their conference schedule.
“We just pump each other up,” Fouke said. “Our coach tells us what we need to work on, fix it and just move on from our mistakes. Just move on and help each other. It was just so exciting to see everyone together.
“We have a lot of friends on [R-B’s] team, so beating them made us feel even better.”