Sun Prairie's Chaussee too much for Craig
Special to The Gazette
SUN PRAIRIE--As Sun Prairie senior libero Liz Maastrict kept floating the perfect set to the outside, the crowd's gasps began to grow louder and louder as Claire Chaussee took aim.
It was that kind of night for the reigning conference player of the year, where everyone knew the ball was going to her and nobody could stop her.
The senior turned what was billed as an early conference match-up between 2-0 heavyweights into a highlight tape, as her right arm was a big difference in the Cardinals sweep of Janesville Craig, 25-21, 25-21, 25-13, on Tuesday night.
“(Our girls) wanted to try to upset them and be the team to beat them,” Janesville Craig coach Blake Budrow said. “I think our girls were looking at it as a very good test win or lose. They just wanted to know if they could play good volleyball.”
In reality Craig, which finished second in the Big Eight last season to the Cardinals, did a lot good things. Junior Amanda Carlson led the team in kills (nine), junior center Taylor Salmon delivered 27 assists and senior Kennedy Cox was stellar with her play in the back row.
But there's a reason why Chaussee was a first-team all-state pick a year ago and will soon sign her national letter of intent to play at Louisville. Not only did she deliver a game-high 13 kills, she added a couple of service aces and 1.5 blocks, being a thorn in everything Craig was trying to do defensively.
“Winning the conference last year has really put a big target on our back but that just makes us more hyped and play more and more competitive each time,” Chaussee said. “I'm glad that we just kept swinging.”
Dealing with Sun Prairie's height at the net made life a challenge for Craig, especially when having to keep playing from behind. The Cougars played with the lead throughout the first 13 points of the first game, but a 5-0 run for the Cardinals--started by a Chaussee block no less and continued by three straight hitting errors--put the hosts up 11-7 and kept them in front for the rest of game one.
“We had some unforced errors from our back-row attacks, but I'm very pleased with our back row in terms of defense,” Budrow said. “We dug Claire and their other hitters. They did exactly what we worked on in practice to force other players to beat us.”
Craig wasn't as fortunate in the final two games. The Cardinals jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the second game, and a 12-5 edge in game three, and Craig could never fully swing momentum back to its side. Craig began just one point of the final 117 with the lead.
“It's mentally tough,” Budrow said. “All that energy that we exerted to get back into it and then when they side out, it's tough trying to regain it.”
SUN PRAIRIE 3, CRAIG 0
Craig 21 21 13
Sun Prairie 25 25 25
Aces: Craig--Amanda Carlson, Maddie Grund 2. SP–Maastricht 3
Kills: Craig--Amanda Carlson 9; SP--Chaussee 14
Assists: Craig--Taylor Salmon 27; SP--Keuler 21
Blocks: Craig--Lily Stockheimer 3; Chaussee 1.5
Digs: JC--Kennedy Cox 7; SP – Maastricht 12.