Sun Prairie holds off gritty effort by Craig
JANESVILLE--For long stretches on Thursday night, the Janesville Craig volleyball team hung right with state-ranked Sun Prairie.
In the end, however, the Cardinals always seemed to have an answer.
Sun Prairie overcame Craig's late rally in the first game and used a 13-4 run to come from behind in the second to sweep the Cougars, 26-24, 25-21, 25-16, in Big Eight Conference play.
“It was a fun night,” Craig coach Blake Budrow said. “They're 23-0 now, so I'm very pleased with how we played. If we get one of those first two games, who knows?”
Sun Prairie, ranked No. 9 in the state in the most recent Division 1 poll, led for most of the first game and was up 24-17 before the Cougars came storming back.
Ali Calkins used one of her team-high six kills to get the serve to Craig junior Gabby Loveland. Loveland used her knuckleball-like serve, with a variety of speeds and placements, to run off six straight points and tie the game.
“If you stand behind it, it's one of the best float-serves there is,” Budrow said. “It'll move two feet sometimes. But she also does a nice job of mixing it up.”
The Cougars lost the serve out of a timeout, and Sun Prairie senior Emily Chaussee—who had a match-high 11 kills and four aces—put game one away with a big kill.
The two teams played back and forth in game two until it was 12-12 and the serve was back in Loveland's hands.
This time she served up five straight points, thanks in part to kills from Calkins and junior Aly Raymond.
“A lot of times you come out flat after you give so much effort to get back into it (in game one),” Budrow said. “But they came out and had that game, too, for a while.”
Yet the Cardinals never wavered. Six-foot-3 junior Molly Livingston blasted back-to-back kills to grab some momentum back for Sun Prairie and Chaussee's ace capped off the 13-4 run that put the game away.
From there, game three was all Sun Prairie.
Loveland led the Cougars with three aces. Raymond and McKenzie Bertagnoli had five kills apiece and senior Kayley Hackett set up 22 assists.
“They have a little more height than we do, so we had to try to hit over the block, then their defense has a better chance of getting the ball up,” Budrow said. “But it's probably the best match we played all year.”
Craig, which fell to 2-2 in conference play, will try to carry momentum into an invite at Edgerton on Saturday.
SUN PRAIRIE 3, JANESVILLE CRAIG 0
Sun Prairie 26 25 25
Craig 24 21 16
Sun Prairie leaders: Kills—Emily Chaussee, 11. Aces—Chaussee, 4. Assists—Amber Stieren, 16.
Craig (Aces-kills-assists): Melanie Tinker, 0-0-2; Haleigh Salemi, 2-0-0; Kayley Hackett, 0-1-22; Kourtney Kell, 0-3-0; Gabrielle Geller, 0-1-0; Ali Calkin, 0-6-1; Gabby Loveland, 3-0-0; Haley Updike, 0-3-0; Amanda Trapp, 0-3-0; Aly Raymond, 0-5-0; McKenzie Bertagnoli, 0-5-0; Jenna Brandt, 0-1-0; Annie Schumacher, 0-1-0.