West Aurora starts strong, but Naperville North finishes

SHARE West Aurora starts strong, but Naperville North finishes

Neither game of Thursday’s match with West Aurora started particularly well for Naperville North and Jenna LaCorte, but no matter.

Not much went wrong after that.

The host Huskies rode two huge runs to a 25-15, 25-10 nonconference win.

LaCorte said a point of emphasis lately has been avoiding the typical peaks and valleys of a volleyball match — and for the most part Naperville North (10-6) was able to do just that.

“We were just really looking for consistency,” LaCorte said. “Once we got on a run just worked on holding it and every aspect of our game seemed to flow.”

The match started in inauspicious fashion for the Huskies, West Aurora (4-11) jumping ahead 6-3 with the help of four North errors.

But Megan Wernette followed a Blackhawks error by blasting a quick-set kill off a defender, triggering a lengthy 16-2 North run.

LaCorte had four of her six kills during that stretch, repeatedly whistling crosscourt attempts from the left pin. A Wernette ace finished the stretch with North in command 19-8.

A 5-9 senior, LaCorte didn’t play last year — but has emerged as a viable option for the Huskies to go to when opponents mark their two big middles.

“Opponents scouting us know we have two good middles, and outsides get a lot of attempts because of their position,” North coach Jennifer Urban said. “It’s comforting to know that she’s ready to swing and ready to put the ball away.”

West started strong again in Game 2. Kayla Battle reached over for a kill off a Huskies overpass, Mallory Jones served an ace and Jordyn Poppen put down a kill.

The wheels came off from there, though, starting with a serve into the net and double-hit violation. Two West timeouts could not stem the tide in an 18-1 stretch.

“We started really well, system looked good — and then we got out of serve receive and they scored a bunch of points,” West coach Kari Nicholson said. “We just couldn’t get it back.”

Wernette got rolling in Game 2, powering two quick-set kills from Emily Kwak, who finished with 12 assists. Jillian Schulte got into the act later, landing back-to-back-to-back ace serves out of a West timeout as part of a 9-0 service run.

Urban found little to quibble about, singling out the effort her girls put forth on the defensive end.

“Really pleased with the girls’ performance,” Urban said. “I thought they played steady throughout the match. We made a commitment to playing better team defense and I thought we did a nice job of that.”

The present is up-and-down for West, but the future looks bright. Battle, one of three Blackhawks sophomores — two of them middles — showed flashes of her ability with four kills and a block. Grace VanDorn, another sophomore, had nine assists.

“When they are on they are great to watch,” Nicholson said. “Kayla didn’t get too many opportunities but she does some really good things.”

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