Created:Monday, September 23, 2013 5:21 p.m.CDT
Updated:Tuesday, September 24, 2013 8:25 a.m.CDT
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Volleyball insider: Dundee-Crown's Frankie Cavallaro Player of the Week

Dundee-Crown sophomore Frankie Cavallaro

Athlete of the week

Frankie Cavallaro

Dundee-Crown, so., setter

Cavallaro’s performance during Thursday’s match against Huntley was a critical component of the Chargers’ upset. Cavallaro had 13 assists, nine digs and six kills in D-C’s three-set win against the Red Raiders. Cavallaro finished the week with eight kills, 23 assists, 13 digs and four blocks in two matches, including a loss to Prairie Ridge on Tuesday.

Noteworthy

Asics Preview success: Crystal Lake South, along with many other teams, uses the Asics Preview at Mother McAuley as a measuring stick of sorts. The Gators’ runner-up status should give them a shot of confidence, then.

South lost to Lincoln-Way Central in three sets Saturday to finish second in the prestigious two-day tournament, which is hosted annually by the Mighty Macs’ JV team and includes some of the strongest competition in the Chicago area. South beat Fenwick, Chicago Christian, Mother McAuley and Lyons Township before losing to Lincoln-Way Central.

“I thought, overall, the girls did a great job this weekend,” South coach Jorie Fontana said. “There are areas we need to work on to be consistent, but there were many moments of ‘wow.’ In the last match, for example, [we] went on a run of amazing. Everything clicked. Then, some errors here and there broke that consistency and it was hard to get it back against a really good team who stole the momentum.”

South’s offensive attack is well documented this year, and it did not disappoint. Outsides Carly Nolan and Avalon Nero had 57 and 40 kills, respectively, while middle Nicole Slimko knocked down 30. Setter Cassy Sivesind had 113 assists.

It’s South’s defense that has been rather unheralded. Slimko added 15 blocks and libero Hannah Wilson led the team with 52 digs.

“We have a big offense, but I have been most impressed with how our defense has stepped up,” Fontana said. “I would love to see our serve receive become more consistent.”

South will be able to test that back row passing Tuesday against Huntley. The Red Raiders serve aggressively and should provide ample opportunities for South to improve serve-receive.

Passing helped Dundee-Crown upset Huntley last week, D-C coach Christine Hopkins-Muehl said.

“The key to beating Huntley was to have our passing game on and our blocking working for us” she said. “We knew, if we could shut down their hitters, we could have a legitimate shot at winning.”

The victory was a signature one for the Chargers, too, who are young and struggle sometimes to believe in themselves, Hopkins-Muehl said.

“Many of the girls are unsure of themselves,” she said. “I know to some it might seem silly, but that win against Huntley was huge for us and our program. I think that the team is slowly starting to see that if they pull together and fight hard, they can play with and beat some of these tougher teams in our conference.”

Maternity leave: Richmond-Burton coach Kaycee Kaywood welcomed her first child, a boy, last week. Assistant coach Laura Chelcun is filling in while Kaywood is out.

During the preseason, Kaywood mentioned she would try to return to the bench for the playoffs, which begin at the end of October.

Finding their way: Alden-Hebron coach Carrie Recard wasn’t sure what to expect from her relatively new and young team this season, other than her players accepted all the challenges she threw them during preseason.

The Giants have shed some of their inexperience, Recard said. A-H picked up its first Northeastern Athletic Conference win of the season last week against Mooseheart, led by Brooklyn Hilton’s eight kills.

Communication has keyed much of the Giants’ growth, Recard said.

“At the beginning of the season they found it difficult to communicate on the court,” she said. “However, they are now trusting each other as teammates and continuing to communicate, which has found them more success.”

Hilton, meanwhile, has blossomed. Communication between Hilton and her setters has been critical too.

“She works closely with setters to give her the most ample opportunities to hit perfect sets during a game,” Recard said. “She continues to work on her approach and makes smart choices at the net. She is critical of the game and very aware of what her strength is: hitting.”

This week’s top matches

CL South at Huntley, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

The Gators and the Red Raiders face off for the first time this year in Fox Valley Conference Valley Division play. South is unbeaten, while Huntley suffered its first division loss to Dundee-Crown on Thursday.

Johnsburg at CL Central, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

The Tigers and the Skyhawks are undefeated heading into the first of their two FVC Fox Division matches.

Richmond-Burton at Burlington Central, 6 p.m. Tuesday

R-B and Burlington have been the toughest two teams in the Big Northern Conference East Division for the past few years. This likely will be R-B’s first division test of the season.

Jacobs at Dundee-Crown, 6:30 p.m. Thursday

This is the first of two matches this season between the FVC Valley Division and D-300 foes.

Maureen Lynch

sportsdesk@nwherald.com