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Turns out, Hunt and the La Salle-Peru volleyball team were just fine.
In Thursday’s Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference crossover against Sycamore, the Lady Cavaliers fell behind early in both sets. However, L-P stayed patient and poised as in each set it overcame early deficits and rallied for a 25-13, 25-19 win.
“I try to stay calm, and I think we’ll get through it every time,” said Hunt, L-P’s senior middle hitter, of the early deficits. “I have faith in us, and we’re all pretty confident we can work through it.”
In their first game since winning last weekend’s Springfield Lutheran tournament, the Lady Cavs fell behind early as they gave up four of the match’s first five points and trailed 4-1.
Sycamore held leads of 6-3 and 7-6 before L-P took full control.
The Lady Cavs grabbed the lead on a 3-0 run, and a seven-point service rally by Hunt was part of an 8-0 L-P surge that gave the Lady Cavs a 17-8 cushion that they rode to win the set.
The Spartans (1-2) made L-P work harder in the second set as Sycamore took leads of 6-3, 10-6 and 12-9 before a 7-0 Lady Cavs run — keyed by the serve of junior hitter Shana Puetz — gave L-P a 16-12 lead.
“I think we’re relaxed and poised no matter if we start fast or slow,” L-P coach Mark Haberkorn said. “I think that early tournament really helps a young team like this. They all matured (last weekend), and this group has never panicked all year. They just go out and play and play with a lot of confidence.”
Despite L-P taking the lead in the second set, Sycamore stayed close as it pulled to within two points on three occasions, but L-P closed on a 7-3 run to end the set and match.
“They are just a high-quality team who is very well coached,” first-year Sycamore coach Eric Nore said of L-P. “They are very disciplined and a lot bigger and athletic. We had some difficulties executing like I thought we should’ve.
“It was just a rough night for us and they played extremely well. Their middles were dynamic, and they have a nice strong outside sophomore. Their setter was quality and they covered well. We just had a hard time finding and exploiting any weaknesses.”
With the win, the Lady Cavs improved to 7-0 on the season.
“I think this start has been great,” Hunt said. “I hope it can continue through the whole season and we can continue to play well. It’s been a great start to my senior season.”
Hunt finished with a match-high 12 points and two blocks to go with four kills, while senior setter Katie Olson served up 22 assists. Sophomore hitter Taylor Gibson added seven points, six kills and four digs, while junior middle hitter Ellie Senica put down eight kills and Puetz had 11 points. “I thought we played a very solid match tonight,” Haberkorn said. “In all phases I thought we were solid and executed offensively and defensively. I was pleased with the overall play tonight.”
Note: The L-P sophomore squad also won 25-17, 25-16, while the L-P freshman red team was victorious 25-13, 25-17. The L-P freshman green fell 25-21, 19-25, 15-12.
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.
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