VOLLEYBALL: Chavers’ six aces guides Herscher past Central
CLIFTON — Coming off of a three-match day in Saturday’s Pontiac Invitational, Herscher got all it could handle early on from rival Central on Monday night.
But thanks to a mammoth 12-0 run lead by senior setter Chloe Chavers, the Tigers weathered the storm early and ran away with a 2-0 victory against the Comets 25-14, 25-14.
“We always start a little nervous, and tonight, we just weren’t as focused as we should have been,” Chavers said. “Coach told us what to do, and after a while, we put it together and made it work.”
After the teams went back and forth on the first 10 points of the game, the Comets were able to take the first multi-point lead of 11-8, thanks to some strong play at the front of the net, led by Caitlin Gerdes and Jenna Raines.
“Up front, they’re big blockers — we recently changed a man up because they’re such good blockers,” Comets coach Jill Luckenbill said of her team. “But we still have a little work to do on making sure we square up to the net and close those blocks.”
Tigers coach Joel Huizenga said the Tigers struggled to adjust their timing to the Comets’ strong block after their last match against a high-powered LaSalle-Peru team during the weekend.
“We’re coming off of Saturday, where LaSalle-Peru was faster on their swings than we could ever produce,” Huizenga said. “So early, we were intense on that block, and Central just did a great job of abusing that block.”
After they fell behind 11-8 and regrouped during a timeout, the Tigers came out hot. With Chavers serving, they ripped off 12 straight points and took the wind out of the Comets’ sails.
Chavers finished the night with six aces, spending her time at the line keeping the Comets guessing and, in turn, off balance.
“Serving is a really important part of our game; we always work on it in practice and talk about how serving is important in making the other team stay on its heels and out of their comfortable spot,” Chavers said. “I go back there and do what I need to do for my team.”
While Huizenga was quick to hail Chavers’ ability to serve as well, he was most impressed with her all-around performance. Chavers finished with five digs and a team-high 10 assists.
“She just does a really great job of knowing when to go where,” Huizenga said. “You have to pick your spots carefully. The setter has to be aware of where the defenders are, and Chloe just does a great job.
“It’s just her all-around leadership; it starts with her serves, but her defense and her set choices are outstanding.”
Claudia Huston had eight kills to lead the Tigers and added a pair of digs and an ace. Olivia Ruder had a team-high eight digs to go along with three assists and an ace.
Kamryn Grice had three kills to lead the Comets, and Raines had two kills. Hanna Offerman had three assists. Emily Gressens and Riley Thompson each had an ace.
For Huizenga, the win came in one of his favorite gyms, the famed Crater.
“It’s such a fun gym. I love the way it’s built; there’s so much history,” Huizenga said. “I don’t know if the girls appreciate it, but I sure do.”
Luckenbill also acknowledged the novelty of the two long-time rivals playing yet another match in the Crater and said she expects to see her team improve in the gym as the season goes on.
“It’s always fun to play here; just the way the gym’s set up, it just brings that intensity,” Luckenbill said. “My girls just learn to know how to keep that intensity from beginning to end, whether we’re winning or losing.”
The Comets have another chance to keep their intensity when they travel to Dwight on Thursday. The Tigers are be back in action at Westmont today.