Crystal Lake Central junior opposite Sarah Kelly had seven kills and a block while her sister, freshman middle Megan Kelly, added six kills as the Tigers defeated Wheaton North 25-21, 27-25 to win the championship of the 12-team Jacobs Tournament on Saturday in Algonquin.
A lot of folks did not know what to expect from Crystal Lake Central this season after the Tigers graduated 10 seniors, but Sarah Kelly said she knew the Tigers had the talent coming up to succeed at a high level.
“Last year we had a lot of talented juniors and sophomores behind us, but the seniors really took care of it,” said Sarah Kelly, who spent some time on the varsity bench as a sophomore. “But this year, it’s our time to come out here.
“I’m not surprised at all. We work hard at practice. We fight hard in matches. We have great team chemistry. I don’t know how it happened, but it’s awesome. We play so well together at practice, now we’re kind of showing it in our games.”
There’s also a lot of chemistry among the Kellys.
“I’m so excited this year,” Sarah Kelly said. “I’ve never been on a team with her, and she’s so excited to be here. There’s another freshman [Emily Kelly]. She wasn’t out there today. But we’re actually really close as family.
“We have kind of a weird relationship, because we’re all kind of mature so we get along really well. It’s strange for siblings to get along so well, but we really do, so it’s fun.”
Megan Kelly had the big kill to give the Tigers (7-0) a 26-25 lead in Game 2 after they had trailed 24-21 just a few points earlier.
“We definitely can’t have enough Kellys,” Crystal Lake Central coach Lisa Brustrum said. “They’re players just like the other 16 players on our roster. They work really hard every practice. They’re always trying to get better every match. They always try to do what they can for the team.
“Megan did a very nice job at the end. She stepped up big time for a freshman playing in the championship match of a big tournament. She really came through big time at the end.”
The loss spoiled a gutty performance by Wheaton North’s Tiesman twins. Junior middle Abby Tiesman had eight kills and a block and junior outside Grace Tiesman added five kills. The pair helped rally the Falcons (8-3) to a 20-25, 25-20, 25-21 win over Cary-Grove in the semifinals.
“Grace Tiesman was having a little trouble getting to the outside so she could get some full swings,” Wheaton North coach Carole Kristensen said. “She puts a lot of pressure on herself to make it perfect every time. It’s just her second year playing outside. Once she started swinging, we were doing a little bit better.”
Kristensen also marveled at the number of balls Crystal Lake Central was able to return.
“We were like, ‘They got that one back,’” she said. “It was a little frustrating. They did the old West Chicago thing. They’re this big and they just keep on sending it back to you. It kind of wears you down, particularly with a tournament like this when you’re playing five matches in one day.”