2012 2013 Volleyball Season:Near misses top local sports list
January 8, 2013Richmond Burton High School
Near misses top local sports list
4. Richmond-Burton volleyball: The Rockets lost to St. Francis in the Class 3A state championship match, 25-21, 25-20, ending their best season with second place.
The Rockets, led by 6-foot-1 Ali Frantti, the Northwest Herald Player of the Year, finished 37-5 for the season. Their victory over Jacksonville 19-25, 27-25, 25-22 in the semifinals was perhaps their most dramatic of the season. (NWHerald 12/30/12)
For complete article see http://www.mchenrycountysports.com/articles/2012/12/22/r_5z1as7qwtioslohabbsfw/index.xml
NWHerald Girls VB All-Area Team:
First Team: Ali Frantti: RB, jr., outside hitter ~Frantti was nearly unstoppable on the attack en route to the Rockets' first appearance at state in school history. Frantti, the 2012 NW Herald Player of the Year, tallied 557 kills-10th most in a single season in IHSA history- - and led RB to a Class 3A state runner-up finish. She was more than just their go-to hitter, recording 232 digs, 72 aces and 54 blocks.
Second Team: Kara Russell, RB., sr., setter
Honorable Mention: Kim Russel, RB, sr., right side hitter & Alex Callanan, RB, sr., outside hitter (NWHerald 11/23/12)
Rockets land in 2nd place
NORMAL – The Richmond-Burton girls volleyball team was not about to slink off the court.
Kara Russell was not going to let that happen.
Russell, a senior setter, rallied the Rockets’ spirits, encouraging them to interact with the crowd after St. Francis beat R-B, 25-21, 25-20, on Saturday night at Redbird Arena in the IHSA Class 3A girls volleyball state title game.
“I didn’t care whether it was No. 1 or No. 2 – as long as we played our hardest, it really meant everything to me, no matter what,” Kara Russell said. “I just thought we should all show it off, put up our hands, No. 2, show that we’re proud of ourselves. Just because we’re not first doesn’t mean we’re not proud.”
The match was a sharp contrast between a state tournament regular – St. Francis – and a Rockets program making its first trip.
R-B (37-5) stayed with St. Francis for most of the first game, tying the score at 13 on a remarkable, scrambling back-row get by Kim Russell that nicked the net and dropped for a crowd-pleasing and highly unconventional kill.
“I didn’t expect that,” Kim Russell said. “We do goofy stuff. When goofy stuff happens, it just makes us more excited.”
Added Rockets coach Kaycee Kaywood: “That’s their personality, right there. That’s totally them.”
The Rockets were still even at 16 after another of Kim Russell’s seven kills, but a heavy dose of the Haggerty sisters – standout hitters Maddie and Molly – helped the Spartans pull ahead to take the first game.
The Spartans (37-5) dominated most of the second game, surging to an 18-6 lead. But the Rockets found their footing to cut into the deficit, thanks largely to scooting back to deal with St. Francis’ deep serves, according to Kaywood.
“When we were in system tonight, obviously we’re pretty unstoppable, so that was kind of the adjustment that we made, to back up a little bit on serve-receive and try to get back in system,” Kaywood said.
The state title was St. Francis’ ninth under coach Peg Kopec and first since 2006, when current sophomore Mary Boken’s older sister, Megan Boken, was one of the team’s standouts. In August, Megan Boken was shot and killed in St. Louis, creating an emotionally charged backdrop to the season.
“The last team that won a state championship was my sister’s team,” said a sobbing Boken, as Kopec reached to comfort her and many of Boken’s teammates fought their own tears during the postgame news conference. “I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a little girl. All you girls have stepped up and were my sisters for me this season. And it means so much to me.”
Junior outside hitter Ali Frantti led the Rockets with 16 kills. Senior Kara Russell had 22 assists and senior Marissa Woodward supplied 15 digs.
The Rockets will have retooling to do with substantial graduation losses looming but Frantti’s return gives them hope that a return to Redbird Arena is possible.
“It was just unbelievable to experience it,” Frantti said. “Just to experience that makes us really hungry now and anxious for next season.” (NWHerald 11/11/12)
View VB State Semi & Finals pictures @ http://photos.vipis.com/f777919106
Richmond-Burton rallies into state final
NORMAL – The situation demanded poise, as unrealistic as that might be to summon with the other team an instant away from a monster celebration.
Somehow, Richmond-Burton junior volleyball standout Ali Frantti kept the Rockets’ flickering championship hopes out of mind long enough to do something about it.
“It was just a matter of me just being confident and just being relaxed,” Frantti said after her dynamite play down the stretch allowed the Rockets to defeat Jacksonville, 19-25, 27-25, 25-22, in Friday’s Class 3A state semifinal at Redbird Arena. “I play better when I play relaxed. The whole game, I felt relaxed, so that really helped.”
The Rockets advance to today’s 5:30 p.m. state championship match against perennial power St. Francis, which also prevailed in a three-game thriller Friday against Champaign Centennial.
Down a game, Richmond-Burton (37-4) led most of Game 2 but wound up staring down a pair of match points once Jacksonville rallied for a 24-22 lead. A Frantti kill followed by a Crimsons hitting error knotted the score at 24 before Frantti gave the Rockets the lead with another kill.
Jacksonville standout Jaelyn Keene tied the game at 25 with a kill before Frantti kept her team’s season alive with yet another of her 22 kills, then a service point, for the 27-25 triumph to tie the match.
Despite the Penn State recruit drawing her customary hefty defensive attention, the 6-foot-1 junior still made the difference.
“We go into the game knowing that they’re going to stick on Ali, probably just stand there and wait for her to get set,” Rockets senior setter Kara Russell said. “ ... But Ali knows how to work around the block a lot, or I just switch it up to Kim (Russell) because she puts the ball away right away when we need it.”
Frantti continued to assert herself in the rubber game, thundering a kill that deflected into the Redbird Arena seats to put the Rockets up, 19-18. The Crimsons (30-9) regrouped to tie the score at 20-all, but the Rockets owned the final stages.
A Kara Russell service ace made it 22-20 R-B before successive kills by Frantti and Kim Russell supplied a commanding 24-20 advantage. The Crimsons cut that lead in half, but Frantti employed uncharacteristic finesse on a final tip-kill to prompt the Rockets’ celebration.
“She was making adjustments on us quicker than we could make adjustments on her,” Jacksonville coach Gary Hickox said. “We were blocking lines, she’d cut the ball sharp. We tried to take away that sharp cut, and then she started hitting it even sharper on us, which was something we’d never seen all year.”
The Crimsons wielded a dominating net presence of their own in the 6-2 Keene, whose match-high 23 kills strained R-B throughout the match.
Jacksonville carried a modest lead for much of Game 1, an advantage the Rockets’ Kara Russell trimmed to 19-17 with an ace. But Keene responded with a kill to make it 20-17, added another to put the Crimsons up 23-19 and capped Game 1 with consecutive aces.
Rockets coach Kaycee Kaywood said a tense postseason helped her team regroup.
“A couple of our games in sectionals and supersectionals were really, really close, so I think these guys know how to battle through tight situations,” Kaywood said. “It was nice to see them do that.”
Kim Russell notched 10 kills for the Rockets, while her twin sister, Kara, had 36 assists. Senior libero Marissa Woodward led R-B with 20 digs, and Frantti contributed three aces.
The Rockets, making their downstate debut, are pitted against state volleyball royalty in tonight’s championship match. St. Francis (36-5) is hunting its ninth state title under legendary coach Peg Kopec.
“I think it’s going to work to our advantage to be the underdog,” Kaywood said. “We’re going to be underestimated a little bit. I think if we play our game and we stay in system, I think we’re going to put up a great fight.
“Obviously, we have an amazing offense, that’s our strong suit. We’re going to bring it tomorrow.” (NWHerald 11/9/12)
Deep local volleyball talent pool shows at state
Representing public schools at the state tournament has become a source of pride for McHenry County-area volleyball teams.
Winning a state title is always the No. 1 priority, but given the area’s recent success during the state tournament, schools such as Richmond-Burton have been eager to prove they can contend with Illinois powerhouses, which are predominantly Catholic schools.
Since 2004, 13 area volleyball teams, from seven different schools, have advanced to state in their respective classes. Last year, Cary-Grove’s state final appearance for a third consecutive season was a first for a public school since Downers Grove South (1992 to 94). This year, it became Richmond-Burton’s turn, playing at Redbird Arena for the first time in school history.
While the area has historically produced state-caliber teams dating to the early 1990s, the volleyball talent is no longer limited to one or two teams in part because of club volleyball.
“Club definitely helps you in the high school season,” said R-B junior outside hitter Ali Frantti, who plays for Club Fusion. “They prepare you for the high school season, basically. You develop a lot of your skills during club and as the high school season goes on, you notice that.”
Sky High, in Crystal Lake, and Club Fusion, in Marengo, have provided an outlet for some of the area’s best volleyball players to compete at a national level. Those experiences against some of the nation’s top talent and the ability to play year round have impacted high school teams – for the better.
“There’s certainly a bigger pool of athletes now playing club than ever before,” Sky High executive director Scott Harris said. “I feel like the last two Olympics had a huge impact with that. ... These kids that are playing six or seven more months out of the year aside from the high school season, you can imagine how much better they’re getting.”
Playing volleyball year round and competing in national tournaments has raised the level of play at the high school level. And those experiences are no longer limited to the bigger high schools in Crystal Lake or Cary. Volleyball programs at R-B and Marian Central, though a private school, have reached the grandest stage in the state tournament through development on club teams.
“I think what you are seeing now in the last five to seven years is you’re seeing some of the smaller communities, kids and players from some of the smaller schools like a Richmond-Burton, really flock to the sport more so than they did 10 years ago,” Club Fusion general manager Eric Schulze said. (NWheradl 11/9/12)
Richmond-Burton serious about state
When the Richmond-Burton volleyball team steps onto the court today under the bright lights at Redbird Arena in Normal, butterflies will be fluttering as they embrace the unknown.
The unknown has yet to be an issue during the Rockets’ postseason run filled with firsts. The previous accolades – regional, sectional and supersectional titles – won’t matter when they begin their warmups in Normal. Past disappointments forgotten, the Rockets are making sure they cherish their first appearance at state in the program’s 40-year history.
“I felt like we grew up a lot and became more mature,” junior outside hitter Ali Frantti said. “We’re still the same goofy girls, but I think because we have a group of seniors, this is it. Let’s go out with a bang. We play every game like it’s our last together.”
The Rockets meet Jacksonville today at about 6 p.m. in the second Class 3A semifinal. The winner advances to Saturday’s state championship match against the winner of the 4:30 p.m. match between St. Francis and Champaign Centennial.
“I don’t think it’s really going to set in until we get there and we’re in the middle of Redbird Arena, looking around and taking it in,” coach Kaycee Kaywood said.
Jacksonville (30-8) undoubtedly will try to force R-B (36-4) to run its offense through someone other than Frantti.
It’s easy to understand why they would adopt that strategy.
Frantti’s 519 kills entering the state semifinals are the most by any Class 3A player since the emergence of the four-class system in 2007. Only two players on any state qualifier in any class have had more kills before the state semis: Jordan Haverly in 2007 (574 with Class 1A Keith School in Rockford) and Rachel Hockaday in 2007 (535 with Class 2A Maroa-Forsyth).
Her 519 kills are already 14th most in a single season in state history.
“I try not to let it get to my head,” Frantti said of opponents trying to shut her down. “ ... If I get blocked, I’m not going to be timid. I’m going to keep going.”
But for as deadly an offense the Rockets boast – three players, Frantti, Alex Callanan and Kim Russell, have combined for 1,003 kills this season – their defense can’t be overlooked. The best teams can’t make it far in the postseason without steady performances from their back row. It’s no different for R-B.
Anchored by senior libero Marissa Woodward, the Rockets expect to be challenged against Jacksonville. The Crimsons feature junior middle blocker Jaelyn Keene, who can beat defenses both at the net (100 blocks) and on the attack (439 kills). No one else on Jacksonville has more than 176 kills or 58 blocks.
“We really want to focus on our passing and our serve-receive because without that you won’t be able to run our offense, and we know that,” Woodward said. “One thing we really focus on defense is our talking because we realize the more we talk, the more we move our feet, and the more we move our feet, the more we put the ball up to run our offense.” (NWHerald 11/9/12)
Richmond-Burton coach like sister to Rockets
By MEGHAN MONTEMURRO - firstname.lastname@example.org
RICHMOND – The volleyball court at Richmond-Burton has long been coach Kaycee Kaywood’s home away from home.
Kaywood’s R-B roots run deeper than coaching the Rockets’ varsity team since 2008. Kaywood (nee Kane) graduated from R-B in 2002 after playing volleyball all four years – a setter while in the back row and an outside hitter in the front – and was part of a Rockets squad that won a regional title in 2001, the program’s first in 13 years.
The R-B connection doesn’t stop there with the coaching staff. Assistant Jenny Robison graduated in 2005, the same year the Rockets won their last regional title until R-B’s historic postseason run to the IHSA Class 3A state semifinals this season.
“Everybody always asks me, ‘Why would you want to go back to the high school that you went to? And my simple answer is because I love it and I love the people that work there,” Kaywood said. “I think it has a little impact on the community in that it’s nice to see former students enjoy the school and the experience that they got enough to come back and work here.”
Under Kaywood’s guidance, the Rockets earned their first appearance in the state semifinals, dropping only four matches en route to Friday’s match against Jacksonville at Redbird Arena in Normal.
“She works us hard to make sure we can be the best we can be,” senior outside hitter Alex Callanan said. “She’s like a sister to us; we can tell her anything. ... It’s been a long journey with her.”
The connection she has developed with her players, especially the five seniors, hasn’t gone unnoticed. Many of the Rockets referred to Kaywood as a sister, including senior setter Kara Russell, who, along with her twin sister Kim, have known their coach since she they were young.
“I’ve known her since I was a little kid because she was best friends with my brother, so she’s known us since we were little and now we’re playing for her,” Kara Russell said. “I kind of liked it because I felt comfortable playing for her and I knew her well.”
But don’t mistake a sisterly relationship for leniency on the court. Kaywood and the Rockets set high expectations entering the 2012 season after disappointing postseason performances the previous two years. Although they reached their goal by making it to state, R-B is hardly satisfied, given how far they’ve come with two matches remaining.
Part of the Rockets’ success of finally overcoming past demons resulted from Kaywood revamping practices. Kaywood and her staff created a practice routine that included a focus on basic ball handling skills while incorporating cardio to improve conditioning. Junior outside hitter Ali Frantti described the practices as “harder and more focused,” and it has been exactly what the Rockets needed.
Despite the plethora of praise from her players, Kaywood didn’t want to take any credit for the Rockets’ success.
“Honestly, they don’t need me; they could do this on their own, they really could,” Kaywood said. “I’m just there to get them talking and have them point out what needs to be done and establish some leadership roles. Otherwise, they’ve done it.” (NWHerald 11/8/12)
Richmond-Burton's Callanan does what it takes
RICHMOND – Richmond-Burton outside hitter Alex Callanan knows her role.
Callanan never expects to lead the Rockets in kills each game, and she is perfectly OK with that. Certainly the go-to hitters typically garner the most attention, both from opponents and in the headlines, but every championship-caliber team needs a Callanan, someone willing to do whatever the team needs to win.
While junior outside hitter Ali Frantti and senior right side hitter Kim Russell spearhead the attack, it’s been a collective team effort that has carried R-B to its first appearance at state in the program’s 40-year history. R-B plays Jacksonville (30-8) in the IHSA Class 3A state semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday at Redbird Arena in Normal.
“We all know everyone’s going to try and line up on [Frantti] and block her, but I just try to come out there and do the best that I can, tip once in a while, and hit and try to throw them off,” Callanan said. “I expect every set that Kara [Russell] gives me. Most of the time it will go to Ali, but I just make sure I go up and do my best and make her set worth it.”
Early on in the season, the Rockets (36-4) established Frantti and Kim Russell as the top two attack options with smashing success, combining for 830 kills entering Friday’s state semifinals. It would have been easy for Callanan, a senior, to lose her focus or confidence on the court knowing she would rarely lead R-B in kills, let alone consistently receive sets.
Yet Callanan embraced her role, becoming a dynamic, all-around player who is capable of beating opposing defenses by utilizing a variety of shots. It’s exactly what the Rockets needed to help reach their final destination and check off their preseason goal of reaching state.
“She’s OK with not looking like a dominant player, even though she is a dominant player,” Rockets coach Kaycee Kaywood said. “She’s just a very level-headed kid and understands that her role on the team is just as important even though she might not be getting the amount of sets Ali is.”
Although the opportunities may be limited, Callanan has capitalized on her chances. She’s tallied the third-most kills for R-B with 173, but Callanan’s impact stretches beyond her ability to turn the offense from a two-person show into a three-headed monster. Callanan has been just as effective defensively, recording the second-most digs (291) while also delivering 35 aces, tied for third on the Rockets.
It’s no secret that the key to slowing down the Rockets’ attack is finding a way to stop Frantti. One way to combat Frantti’s effectiveness is the use of triple blocks, though it’s a risky tactic. However, if Jacksonville decides to focus all of its attention on Frantti during Friday’s semifinal match, Callanan said she’s ready to step up.
“I think Alex is probably the smartest player on the team,” Kaywood said. “She realizes she’s never going to be Ali Frantti, and Alex is one of those girls that gets it and understands it doesn’t have to be pretty to score points. She’ll do whatever it takes to get that point.
“She’s also very, very consistent, obviously, in the front row but also on defense. She rarely misses her serves.” (NWHerald 11/7/12)
Richmond-Burton headed to state in volleyball
By MAUREEN LYNCH - email@example.com
Imagine how the Rockets will feel Friday when all the lights inside Redbird are on, their fans are cheering and they run out of the tunnel to warm up for an actual match.
The drills are over. With its 25-22, 25-17 victory against Resurrection on Saturday in the IHSA Class 3A Grayslake Central Supersectional, Richmond-Burton earned the program’s first trip to the state semifinals, and completed a dream that began when just hearing their rubber soles squeak against the hardwood was awe-inspiring.
“This was our No. 1 goal, to get to state,” said Alex Callanan, wiping away joyful tears. “We worked so hard, and when we were at Redbird (last summer) we said, ‘Let’s come back for state.’ It’s been a really long journey, but it’s been amazing.”
Callanan and her teammates had designs on the state tournament since last season when it became apparent a roster full of juniors and a standout sophomore could make a run this year.
How long the run would be depended, of course, on the Rockets’ will to make it happen.
They’ve certainly showed that determination, coach Kaycee Kaywood said.
“We went to [Redbird] in July and that was to kind of get them familiar with it just in case this were to happen,” said Kaywood, clutching the supersectional plaque. “It went really well. It was good to see the girls in that arena and hopefully that will ease some of the pressure a little bit.
“I’m so proud of them,” she said. “They’ve but in so much work this year, and … they’ve battled a lot of tough teams to get here, so they deserve it.”
Resurrection (13-24 overall) was intent to make R-B (36-4) work for every point, and came out firing immediately. The Bandits’ serving pulled the Rockets out of system, and they kept Penn State-bound junior outside hitter Ali Frantti quiet until late in the first game.
Ahead 18-17, Frantti knocked down four straight kills to all but close Game 1. R-B never trailed in Game 2, and minimized its mistakes to close the match with precision and consistency.
“I think we had some nerves in Game 1,” Frantti said. “We got our jitters out and calmed down.
“ … It’s awesome that we’ve finally gotten to this point,” she said. “It’s something we talked about all season, and it means a lot to us.” (NWHerald 11/4/12)
Twin powers: Russells key to Richmond-Burton's success
The on-court connection between Richmond-Burton’s twin sisters, seniors Kim and Kara Russell, at times defies explanation.
Kara Russell, the Rockets’ setter, and Kim Russell, their starting right side hitter, have spent three years playing together on R-B’s varsity volleyball team. But their innate understanding of where each other is on the court has reached new heights this season, putting the Rockets on the verge of the Class 3A state semifinals.
“I can easily read Kara,” Kim Russell said. “We just know what each other is doing.”
“When we step on the court, it’s not that we’re sisters and going to get mad at each other,” Kara Russell added. “Usually I don’t really give her bad sets because somehow we connect whether it’s bad or good.”
Three months ago, R-B and the Russell sisters were preparing during a summer camp at an Illinois State University.
The Rockets have an opportunity to finish their season where their hard work began with the school’s first appearance in the state semifinals on ISU’s campus in Normal. For that to happen, however, R-B (35-4) must beat Resurrection at 6 p.m. today in the Class 3A Grayslake Central Supersectional.
“We’re pretty confident heading into [tonight’s match],” Kim Russell said. “Nerves for us are good. We always go in nervous but always get good results with the nerves. We use that as our fuel.”
While coach Kaycee Kaywood and the Rockets’ knowledge of Resurrection is limited – they didn’t have an opportunity to watch them play or get game tape – R-B isn’t worried. And a large part of their confidence entering tonight’s Supersectional centers around Kim and Kara Russell.
“I think the best part of their relationship is they’re not afraid to tell each other to step it up, and yet still at the end of the day they’re sisters and they love each other and respect each other,” Kaywood said of the Russell sisters. “It’s really nice to see that because sometimes girls can get into other girls’ heads.”
The leadership of Kim Russell and the versatility of Kara Russell to set any hitter anywhere on the court has added another wrinkle to an offense led by go-to outside hitter Ali Frantti. The Bandits’ gameplan will likely focus on shutting down Frantti and forcing her teammates to beat that.
The Rockets believe they’re ready for the challenge and aren’t ready for this season to end.
“They have a natural bond obviously being twins,” Kaywood said. “So there was a tendency [last year] to maybe force Kim in some situations that weren’t the right time to do it. That’s what we’ve really been working on with Kara this year that you can’t go to Kim as much.” (NWHerald 11/3/12)
Rockets win sectional title NWHerald Video
Marian Central won Game 1 25-21 and then Richmond-Burton won the next two games 26-24 and 25-22 to win the sectional title and advance to the supersectional.
See video @ http://www.mchenrycountysports.com/video/index.xml?vidid=1940497103001
Richmond-Burton grabs first sectional title
WOODSTOCK – Richmond-Burton’s Ali Frantti can’t go back to Game 1 of Thursday’s volleyball match against Marian Central and start over, but she’d probably like to.
“My Game 1 was horrible,” Frantti said.
That one is hard to dispute.
Frantti could not find the court on several kill attempts, had shots end up in the net and miscounted the number of R-B hits on the final point. It all helped contribute to the Rockets’ 25-21 Game 1 loss in the IHSA Class 3A Marian Central Sectional final.
“Honestly, my teammates were there for me, and they had my back,” Frantti said. “They picked me up.”
Facing a raucous atmosphere with Marian on it’s home floor, Frantti and her teammates dug deep to take the final two games, 26-24, 25-22, and give R-B its first volleyball sectional championship.
The Rockets will face Resurrection in the Grayslake Central Supersectional at 6 p.m. Saturday for a chance to make the state semifinals in Normal.
Neither team took more than a two-point lead in the final game, when at 23-22, Alex Callanan set one over the net into space to bring up match point.
A Marian set into the net ignited an R-B crowd eruption.
“This is exactly what the girls needed to finish with,” coach Kaycee Kaywood said. “Marian has been a huge competitor for us, and I think going out this way is like the icing on the cake.”
Marian defeated R-B in last year’s Class 3A Marengo Regional final. This one in sectionals was even closer.
With R-B leading 11-10 in Game 1, Frantti’s kill attempt was blocked to tie the score. The Hurricanes took the lead shorty after and never let go. That was in the midst of freshman Alex Kaufmann’s seven straight service points to build the Hurricanes’ advantage.
Game 2 went back and forth with Marian (18-21) taking the only two-point lead of the game at 17-15. But Frantti responded with three kills at 22-22, 23-23 and 24-24 to set up her serve and a Game 2 victory kill by Kim Russell.
“It was so nerve racking because Marian is such a great team,” Callanan, a senior outside hitter, said. “We wanted it so badly.”
Marian coach Laura Watling knew that plenty had doubted her team after a tumultuous regular season. But to her, the effort Thursday against an evenly matched R-B team proved the Hurricanes belonged.
“It’s hard because what do you say to a team that left their heart out on the floor and came away with nothing?” Watling said.
“I said nobody is going to doubt how good a team we are after tonight. It just stinks that we don’t have another shot to show everybody.”
Frankie Taylor led Marian with 12 kills, and Meredith Patterson added 10.
Frantti was marked with seven kills, but it seemed like more. Kim Russell notched 14 kills for R-B (35-4).
“Practice, obviously, becomes important,” Frantti said. “We’ll just be tweaking everything and getting ready for supersectionals. I could not be happier for our team.” (NWHerald 11/2/12)
RB, Marian to clash again
by Maureen Lynch firstname.lastname@example.org
Last season, whenever matches started to go sideways, Richmond-Burton’s girls volleyball team would huddle in the center of the court and shout its battle cry.
It was one word, yelled emphatically: “State!”
What the Rockets lacked last year in experience they compensated for with heart. It carried them to their first conference title in more than two decades and an appearance in the IHSA Class 3A Marengo Regional final, where the Rockets lost to eventual state runner-up Marian Central, ending their season and the chance to make “State!” a reality.
Now, a poised and more experienced R-B team needs two wins to make the
program’s first appearance in the Class 3A state semifinals, which begin Nov. 9 at Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena in Normal. If they are to get there, the Rockets will have to dispatch rival Marian Central on its own court in the Marian Sectional final at 7 p.m. today.
“I’ve seen in them so much maturity this year,” R-B coach Kaycee Kaywood said. “They’re becoming such young women … and they’re taking responsibility for how they’re playing. They’re a great group of girls, and they have their heads in it now.”
Led by outside hitters Ali Frantti and Alex Callanan, right side Kim Russell, middles Kelsey Burlini and Brogan Etten, libero Marissa Woodward, and setter Kara Russell, the Rockets now portray the fortitude and discipline necessary for a team on a postseason run.
The Rockets also present challenges opponents have struggled to meet.
Frantti, a Penn State recruit, garners most of the attention, which leaves Callanan especially lethal. Despite her 5-foot-7 frame, Callanan attacks like an outside 4 inches taller and, Kaywood noted, has become the most consistent player on the team. Meanwhile, the Russell sisters share a bond only twins would understand, strengthened by their years of packing a 1-2 punch on the court.
In short, the Rockets are well known for being dangerous everywhere. (NWHerald 11/1/12)
See complete article @ http://www.mchenrycountysports.com/articles/2012/10/31/r_ucxp1eorqlszkofgpgofhw/index.xml
RB wins other semfinal to advance
By Andrew Hansen email@example.com
Marian will faces Richmond-Burton in the championship match after the Rockets took down Kaneland, 25-7, 25-18.
The Rockets (34-4) scored 12 straight to close out the first game. After the Knights got within three at 21-18, middle hitter Kim Russell scored on three straight kills to close out the second game.
Kaneland had little answers for Ali Frantti, who led with 17 kills, and Russell, who added seven. Setter Kara Russell helped distribute the offense with 25 assists and added four blocks.
Rockets coach Kaycee Kaywood said the match played right into their game plan.
“We know from here on out people are just lining up on Ali,” Kaywood said. “So we worked with [Kara] on visualizing where the blockers are going to start off, and going to the opposite hitters and trusting them.”
Thursday’s sectional final sets up a few storylines. The Hurricanes were one of a few teams to defeat the Rockets in the regular season, winning in two games at the CL Central Tournament, and Marian ended R-B’s season last year in a regional championship. (NWHerald 10/31/12)
See http://www.mchenrycountysports.com/articles/2012/10/31/r_kznsa5hsfkdoiyywzgwxw/index.xml for complete article
Resurgent RB on mission
by Meghan Montemurro firstname.lastname@example.org
Each week, the Richmond-Burton volleyball team has taken a step closer to its ultimate goal – an appearance in the IHSA Class 3A state finals.
But for that to happen, the Rockets must check off another objective before reaching their final destination. R-B, seeking its first sectional title since 1986, faces Kaneland in the Marian Central sectional semifinal at 6 p.m. today. A potential rematch against Marian looms as the Hurricanes play Grayslake Central in the second semifinal at 7 p.m. today. Marian ended the Rockets’ season last year in the regional final.
However, R-B (33-4) isn’t worried about what happened in previous years or even what potentially awaits them in Thursday’s sectional final. Their only focus is not overlooking Kaneland, as Rockets coach Kaycee Kaywood expects a tough match.
“I’m so confident in them,” Kaywood said. “They’re very mentally tough and actually they have come up with the fact that they have to focus on one game at a time because they realize if they don’t get past [Kaneland], there’s no sense in worrying about what’s to come.”
The Rockets are riding plenty of experience into the sectional semifinal, led by five seniors, including Kara and Kim Russell. Their best offensive weapon and one of area’s top players, junior outside hitter and Penn State commit Ali Frantti, will draw most of Kaneland’s focus. She’ll be hard to contain, but more importantly Frantti brings unteachable big game experience thanks to playing at nationals for club volleyball.
“I know that they said that they were focused and ready to go last year but looking back on it, I’m not really sure that was the case,” Kaywood said. “The fact that none of [the seniors] want to be done is really working to our advantage because they’re really keeping the rest of the team focused.” (NWHerald 10/30/12)
See complete article @ http://www.mchenrycountysports.com/articles/2012/10/30/r_685q84wrs0mjjr0apsymtw/index.xml
Sectional capsule: Class 3A Marian Central Sectional
RB vs Kaneland 6 p.m today (10/30/12)
About the Rockets: RB continues to quest for its first sectional title since 1986. With five seniors leading the Rockets and go-to hitter Ali Frantti a force at the net, Kaneland's defense will have its work cut out for it. (NWHerald 10/30/12)
Frantti's final kill ends Richmond-Burton's wait
HARVARD – For all of Ali Frantti’s thunderous kills Thursday night, perhaps her final one carried the most purpose.
All season, Richmond-Burton had pointed to an IHSA Class 3A regional championship, an achievement that had managed to elude the Rockets’ six seniors each of the past three years. But after delivering perhaps its most focused effort of the season, one point stood between R-B and advancing to next week’s Marian Central Sectional.
So it seemed only fitting that with so much on the line, one forceful swing of Frantti’s arm would finally propel the Rockets forward. Frantti leapt and punished the ball downward, emphatically capping R-B’s sweep of Lakes, 25-8, 25-12.
With the win, the Rockets (33-4) advance to Tuesday’s 6 p.m. sectional semifinal, where they will face Kaneland, which ended Sycamore’s season in the Hampshire Regional title match.
“Especially doing it how we just played, it feels amazing,” said senior outside hitter Alex Callanan, who finished with eight kills. “Our No. 1 goal was to always get past regionals and it feels so good.”
After being extended to three games in Tuesday’s regional semifinal win over Johnsburg, R-B coach Kaycee Kaywood stressed playing with constant energy. And after reeling off seven straight points to start Game 1, the Rockets never slowed down, building a commanding 20-5 lead.
R-B rotated Frantti around in an attempt to keep Lakes from being able to detect where the ball was coming from. The plan worked to perfection as Frantti finished with nine kills, four blocks, five digs and four aces.
The Rockets relied on a balanced attack, getting eight kills, two blocks and two digs from Kim Russell while Marissa Woodward finished with 10 digs. The multiple contributions, along with a sustained energy made R-B way too much for Lakes (22-12) to contend with.
“Their defense was picking up anything we were throwing at them,” Lakes coach Molly May said. “We tried mixing up our shots, we tried sending it deep, we tried sending it short and they were picking everything up.
“Their defense was flawless tonight.” (NWHerald 10/25/12)
See complete article @ http://www.mchenrycountysports.com/articles/2012/10/26/r_wapsioqutda7kffct0durw/index.xml
Rockets move into final
by Andrew Hansen email@example.com
HARVARD – The top-seeded Richmond-Burton volleyball team didn’t expect an easy road in the playoffs, and Johnsburg proved it.
The Rockets (32-4) won the first game, 25-16, and the third game, 25-10, but the fourth-seeded Skyhawks (26-10) took the second game, 25-16, in an IHSA Class 3A Harvard Regional semifinal.
“We had the mindset to take it one game at a time and not get head of ourselves,” Rockets senior outside hitter Ali Frantti said. “We have five seniors on our team, so we didn’t want this to be our last time.”
Johnsburg found an answer in slowing Frantti in the second game, but she was a force in the first and third games. Frantti totaled 17 kills, four blocks, eight digs and three aces on the day.
The Rockets responded to dropping the second game by playing their best game of the night. Richmond-Burton went on three separate runs of five straight points, and had a run of four straight to help close out the game and match.
“It’s not going to be an easy road, and we expect to go three [games],” Rockets coach Kaycee Kaywood said.
Richmond started strong, closing out the first game by scoring nine of the final 12 points to win by nine.
Setter Kara Russell helped guide the R-B offense, dishing out 29 assists, with middle hitter Kim Russell adding 10 kills. Rockets outside hitters Alex Callanan added four kills and nine digs. (NWHerald 10/24/12)
See complete article @ http://www.mchenrycountysports.com/articles/2012/10/24/r_d1zn_j3jtvcwo43fc_1mxw/index.xml
No. 1 Richmond-Burton vs. No. 4 Woodstock North/No. 5 Woodstock winner, 6 p.m. Tuesday (10/24)
About the Rockets: R-B utterly dominated its BNC schedule, finishing 12-0 for the East Division title. While Ali Frantti, one of the area’s best hitters, leads the offense, the Rockets’ duo of sisters Kim and Kara Russell can help prevent other teams from loading the block against Frantti. (NWHerald 10/22/12)
R-B volleyball team extends BNC East win streak
RICHMOND – The Richmond-Burton girls volleyball team finished its Big Northern Conference East Division schedule with a perfect record for the third consecutive season Thursday with a 25-14, 25-8 win over Marengo.
The Rockets (31-4 overall, 12-0 BNC East) are 32-0 in the division over the past three seasons.
Kim Russell led R-B with nine kills, Ali Frantti added seven kills and six digs and Kara Russell collected 20 assists.
As the top seed of the IHSA Class 2A Harvard Regional, the Rockets face the winner of fourth-seeded Johnsburg and fifth-seeded Harvard on Tuesday. (NWHerald 10/19/12)
Richmond suffers some defeats at weekend invite
By Todd Rohde~CORRESPONDENT
The Richmond-Burton volleyball team had kind of tough go over the weekend, as they participated in a competitive tournament Oct. 13th. After going 25 straight matches and over a month and a half without suffering a defeat, the Lady Rockets have lost four times in just over a week’s time.
Not to take anything away from what the Rockets have been able to accomplish this year and what their outstanding capabilities are, but the team has just run into some tough programs who have been able to give them a run for their money. Despite putting worth a valiant effort, the Rockets finished 2-3 overall at the six-team Crystal Lake Central Invite.
The Rockets, who are now 29-4 overall for the season, finished fourth overall at the busy all-day event. Rockford Boylan took home the top honors at the event by posting an unblemished 5-0 record, while the host Tigers were second at 4-1 and Marian Central third with 3-2.
Richmond won their second and fourth matches on the day, as they knocked off McHenry 25-16 and 25-11 and then got the best of Sycamore in games of 25-13 and 25-15. Each of their losses came to the teams that finished ahead of them in falling 25-18, 20-25 and 20-25 to Rockford, 24-26 and 18-25 to Marian and 23-25, 28-26 and 23-25 to CLC.
Each of the Rockets’ losses proved to be tough and disappointing, as they were tight matches that came down to the wire and just as easily could have gone either way. Richmond fought hard in each of the matches until the bitter end, just to come up a little short.
Against Rockford, the Rockets jumped out to a 1-0 advantage in the match by winning the first game and looked as if they had the momentum on their side. But Boylan refused to give in, as they fought back to take the next two sets and steal the victory.
In the Rockets’ showdown with the Hurricanes, they went back and forth in the first game changing leads several times only to have Marian pull away at game point for the win. Then in the second game, a couple of unforced errors cost the Rockets as the Hurricanes took advantage of the opportunities that they were given.
Finally in probably the best and most exciting match of the tournament, the Rockets and the Tigers matched up very well against one another and left it all out on the court. Competitive play allowed CLC to take the first game by two points, only to see the Rockets rebound and return the favor in the second game to pull even. Then in the decisive third game, the Rockets held the lead late, but the Tigers came on strong at the end to finish things off.
Ali Frantti had a big day for the Rockets, as she finished with a hefty 73 kills to go along with 34 digs, 12 aces and six blocks. Kim Russell was also solid for Richmond, as she came away with 55 kills, 17 digs and three of both blocks and aces.
Rounding things out for the Rockets, Alex Callahan produced 29 kills, 42 digs, three aces and a pair of blocks as teammate Kara Russell contributed 145 assists, eight blocks and four aces. (Richmond/Spring Grove Report 10/20/12)
Rockets get past B-C
Just two days prior to the tournament, the Rockets traveled to Burlington Central and handed the hosts a 25-19 and 28-25 Big Northern Conference loss Oct. 11th. The victory keeps the Rockets league record perfect at 8-0 and gives them a great short at securing yet another conference title.
Frantti led the way with 12 kills, five digs and two aces, as Kim Russell finished with 10 kills and three of both blocks and aces. Callahan was responsible for 10 digs and two blocks and kills, Kara Russell dished of 25 assists and had three blocks and Marissa Woodword secured 10 digs. (Richmond/Spring Grove Report 10/20/12)
Red Hot! Lady Rockets crowned tourney champions
By Todd Rohde~CORRESPONDENT
To say that the Richmond-Burton girls’ volleyball team is playing at the top of their games right now and gelling as a program might be a little bit of an understatement. But to mention that the Lady Rockets are red hot and on fire of late, might be a little more realistic.
Despite having a target on their backs as being the team that every opponent wants to defeat, so far no team has been able to come up with the right answer or solution to accomplish just that. So needless to say, the Lady Rockets just continue to roll along and take care of business one game and match at a time as they still have yet to have a mark in the “L” column this year.
It proved to be another outstanding weekend for the Rockets, as they made sure that their journey to Hampshire was worth the while. They did so by coming home as the champions of the 10-team tournament.
The Rockets finished the competitive and busy one-day event Sept. 29th in style by not only going a perfect 5-0 in matches played on the day, but also finishing an unblemished 10-0 in overall games at the Hampshire Tournament. In doing so, Richmond pushed their overall record on the season to an impressive 20-0.
The Rockets got the day started by bettering Grayslake North by a 25-13 and 25-10 difference in the opening round of play, before making pretty easy work of Winnebago 25-8 and 25-11 in the second round. This put the Rockets in the quarterfinals, where they knocked off Rockford Auburn in a pair of 25-9 games.
Then with the momentum on their side and control of the matches’ tempo, Richmond had to work a little harder in the semifinal bout. That’s where the Rockets were faced up against a scrappy and determined Jacobs squad, where they had to fight hard for everything that they got in posting a 25-22 and 25-16 win over the Golden Eagles.
With the smell of victory in the air and the tournament title on the line, the Rockets weren’t about to give in now without a fierce fight in the championship showdown.
Again it was a challenging match, but in the end the Rockets had just too much firepower as they came away with the 25-19 and 25-14 win to seal the event in their favor.
Leading the charge for the Rockets was junior outside hitter Ali Frantti finishing the day with 49 kills, 10 digs, five aces and four blocks. Senior setter Kara Russell contributed 94 assists, 15 digs, five solo blocks and three aces.
Kara’s sister Kim Russell, a senior right-side hitter, added 32 kills, 11 digs, four blocks and a pair of aces. Rounding things out was senior outside hitter Alex Callahan with 36 digs, 18 kills and five aces. (Richmond/Spring Grove/Johnsburg Report 10/5/12)
Rockets sweep the Royals
Earlier in the week, the Rockets weren’t as impressive as usual, but still were still successful against a different opponent. This time the Rockets (5-0 in league play) bettered Rockford Christian 25-10 and 25-19 in Big Northern Conference action Sept. 26 at Richmond.
The Rockets main concerns came from their inconsistency in giving up the serve more than normal and having some unforced miscues.
Although the Rockets may have bent a little bit to keep the Royals in the match, they were determined not break as they regained their composure when it counted.
The Rockets were sparked by Frantti with 10 kills, Kara Russell with seven kills and three blocks and Kim Russell setting them up with sets. (Richmond/Spring Grove/Johnsburg Report 10/5/12)
Richmond-Burton 2, Harvard 0: At Harvard, the Rockets won, 25-12, 25-17, in a BNC East match to remain undefeated.
Ali Frantti had 13 kills, Marissa Woodward recorded six digs and Kara Russell finished with 23 assists for R-B (21-0, 7-0). NWHerald 10/5/12
Still cruising: R-B still hasn’t been beaten, but much of the credit should go to the Rockets’ defense. Their ability to serve-receive with minimal mistakes makes Russell’s job much easier, and she can get the sets she’d like to big outside hitter Ali Frantti and to her twin sister, Kim Russell.
Senior Alex Callanan has proved to be a difference-maker. Callanan, an outside hitter, plays defense like a libero and passes like a setter while complementing the Rockets’ other attackers well. She finished Saturday’s tournament with 18 kills, five aces, 36 digs and one solo block.
Coach Kaycee Kaywood said Callanan, libero Marissa Woodward and the rest of the defense read the ball on Saturday better than the unit had all season.
“Everyone contributed to the success we had on Saturday because we played very consistently with limited forced errors and played as a team,” Kaywood said. “We didn’t let little runs affect our game plan, which is something we are really working on this year.”
The Rockets had to beat Big Northern Conference East Division rival Burlington Central for the tournament title and got past Central in two sets, unlike the teams’ conference meeting.
The difference? Again, defense, Kaywood said.
“We missed just one serve the entire match, and we picked up on their jump serves much better than we did the first time we saw them,” she said.
The tournament was the second the Rockets have won this season. (NWHerald 10/4/12)
Athlete of the Week
Kara Russell~Richmond-Burton, sr., setter
Russell notched 94 assists, three aces, 15 digs and five solo blocks to help the Rockets win the Hampshire Tournament last weekend. (NWHerald 10/4/12)
Using the underdog tag: Huntley entered last weekend’s Asics Challenge with the 22nd seed in the 24-team tournament. When the Red Raiders promptly upset nationally ranked Lone Peak (Utah) in pool play Friday, coach Karen Liss knew her team would get out of the tournament exactly what she had hoped.
The win kept Lone Peak out of the Gold Bracket, making a championship impossible. Cary-Grove followed Huntley’s lead and beat Lone Peak on Saturday.
“That first day of the tournament was really important,” Liss said. “To play as well as we did coming out was amazing. We want to run a quick offense, but we can’t do that without strong serve-receive, and it was stronger than it ever has been. It was a very good showing.”
R-B beats clock, wins Hampshire tournament
By Bill Pemsteinfirstname.lastname@example.org
HAMPSHIRE – All in all it was a pretty fine weekend for Richmond-Burton’s 6-foot-1 outside hitter Ali Frantti. First a tournament win in Hampshire for her team, and then a trip back home for homecoming festivities.
The starting time for the title match with Burlington Central was scheduled for 4:30 p.m Saturday.
The Rockets asked for help with their plans and got a reprieve from the volleyball officials at Hampshire.
And as if in a hurry to catch the bus back home, the Rockets won this 10-team tourney by stopping Burlington Central, 25-19, 25-14, in the final.
“It was all good competition over there,’’ Frantti said. “We really came out and played well. We made some adjustments that helped.”
The Rockets might have had more trouble in toppling 18-game winner Jacobs, 25-22, 25-14, earlier in the day. “They were very good,’’ said Jacobs coach Lisa Dwyer. “We were really inconsistant in that match and struggled a little bit.” (NWHerald 9/30/12)
For complete article see
Ali Frantti~Richmond-Burton, jr., OH
Athlete of the Week
Frantti is leading the area's only undefeated team this year in a big way. The blue-chip recruit is averaging 16 kills a match and had 184 this season entering Wednesday. She racked up 40 in two matches last week along with 16 digs – a nod to her all-around versatility. She has 75 digs this season and 32 aces – 10 in the past week – thanks to a nasty jump serve. (NWHerald 9/27/12)
Richmond-Burton stays unbeaten, cautious
By JEFF ARNOLD - email@example.com
RICHMOND – The conversations take place every Monday – open, honest discussions covering big-picture goals and the potential pitfalls that stand between Richmond-Burton’s girls volleyball team and its championship aspirations.
From the outside, finding flaws with a cohesive unit that notched its 15th straight win with a sweep of Rockford Christian in Big Northern Conference East Division play Wednesday may be difficult. But for the Rockets, whose end goal has more to do with a state title than their current unbeaten string, the blemishes are far from invisible.
“We basically get the elephant out of the room,” senior middle hitter Kim Russell said after R-B improved to 15-0 (5-0 BNC East) with wins of 25-10 and 25-19 over the Royals (0-6 BNC East). “We say, ‘What’s our worst parts, what’s going bad’ – we’re not afraid to say it.”
For complete article-see the following link
http://www.mchenrycountysports.com/articles/2012/09/27/r_xd1gjhdcsnaab0ruwmzc6g/index.xml (NWHerald 9/27/12)
Richmond-Burton 2, Marengo 0: At Richmond, Kim Russell had 10 kills and four service aces for the Rockets (14-0, 4-0) in a 25-13, 25-15 BNC East win. Katie Ward had 10 kills for the Indians (3-5, 2-3). (NWHerald 9/25/12)
RB 2, GK 0: @ Genoa, Ali Frantti had 10 kills, five digs & three service aces for the Rockets in a 25-10, 25-16 BNC win. Also for RB (13-0, 4-0) Kara Russell made 16 assists and had five digs. (NWHerald 9/21/12)
Blue-chip recruit: By now, everyone knows about Ali Frantti, Richmond-Burton’s standout junior outside hitter. Frantti was named one of the best prospects in her class last spring by prepvolleyball.com, and she has led the Rockets to a 12-0 mark.
Her recruiting is heating up. R-B coach Kaycee Kaywood said scouts from Penn State, Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue and Tennessee, among others, have come to either a Rockets practice or a match this season to see Frantti.
“Ali is a very talented and dedicated volleyball player,” Kaywood said. “She attended every camp and clinic that we had to offer while traveling around to college camps and clinics. She loves to be in the gym.”
In her third season on varsity, Frantti has become more of a vocal leader as well. She complements an offense full of seniors, all talented veteran varsity players, and is averaging about 16 kills a match.
“She’s amazing,” Kaywood said. “That’s all I can say about her.” (NWHerald 9/20/12)
Burlington Central at Richmond-Burton, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday (9/18)
R-B and Burlington could compete for early season bragging rights in the Big Northern Conference East Division. Count on this: R-B junior outside hitter Ali Frantti will give Burlington’s stout defense all it can handle. (NWHerald 9/13/12)
Richmond-Burton 2, North Boone 0: At Poplar Grove, the Rockets defeated North Boone, 25-8, 25-12, in a Big Northern Conference East Division match to remain undefeated.
Ali Frantti led the Rockets with 10 kills, and Alex Callanan had six digs for R-B (11-0 overall, 2-0 BNC East). (NWHerald 9/13/12)
Richmond-Burton 2, Harvard 0: At Richmond, Alex Callanan had six kills and seven digs for the Rockets in a, 25-13, 25-15, BNC East Division win. Also for R-B (10-0, 2-0 BNC East), Kara Russell had 19 assists. (NWHerald 9/11/12)
Richmond-Burton 2, Rockford Christian Life 0: At Rockford, Ali Frantti and Kim Russell lodged 10 kills apiece, Kara Russell had 23 assists, and Alex Callanan had four kills and seven digs to lead Richmond-Burton (9-0, 1-0) to a 25-14, 25-13 BNC East Division win. (NWHerald 9/5/12)
Grayslake Central Tournament: At Grayslake, Richmond-Burton is cruising through its early season schedule.
The Rockets (8-0) won the Grayslake Central Tournament, finishing 5-0 to claim the title. Junior outside hitter Ali Frantti provided plenty of offense, pounding a team-high 77 kills and adding 30 digs and 10 aces. Right side hitter Kim Russell tallied 27 kills and 14 digs. (NWHerald 9/2/12)
RB 2, Byron 1: Richmond-Burton 2, Byron 1: Led by Ali Frantti’s 15 kills and Maissa Woodward’s 15 digs, R-B held on to defeat Byron in a BNC crossover and remain undefeated. Kara Russell had 30 assists for the victorious Rockets (3-0). (NWHerald 8/31/12)
Lady Rockets strive to ride the momentum of last year’s success
Volleyball Team Capsule: Richmond-Burton
Coach: Kaycee Kaywood (fifth season)
2011 record: 29-8 overall, 10-0 (BNC East)
Top returnees: Ali Frantti, Jr., OH; Kim Russell, Sr., RS; Kara Russell, Sr., S; Alex Callanan, Sr., OH; Marissa Woodward, Sr., L; Brogan Etten, Sr., MB; Kelsey Burlini, Jr., MB
Key newcomers: none
What to expect: The Rockets are aiming for a third straight BNC East title – and beyond – with a talented, veteran group back in 2012. Richmond-Burton welcomes back just about everyone from its 29-win team from a year ago. “We are a veteran team with a ton of experience both at the varsity level and at the junior Olympic club level,” Kaywood said. Frantti, who finished with 386 kills last season, gives the Rockets one of the best hitters in the area. (NWHerald 8/24/12)