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2011 2012 Season

January 7, 2013
Richmond Burton High School

“She wants to show that she knows where to put the ball and how to score,” Hurricanes coach Laura Watling said.

“She likes to take advantage when she can because she’s just a really smart player,” Watling said. “This is her last year, and she wants to go out as strong as she can.”

Gilleland went out strong and put together another all-around impressive performance Thursday night.

She finished with 18 assists, seven kills, eight digs and four blocks to lead the top-seeded Marian past No. 2 Richmond-Burton, 25-19, 25-16, in the IHSA Class 3A Marengo Regional championship game.

“I knew that if I put up some kills with some tips in the front, it would open up some one-on-one stuff for my hitters,” Gilleland said. “It wasn’t necessarily about scoring points, just to keep the defense off guard.”

The Hurricanes (31-6), who finished third in Class 3A a year ago, move on to face Rock Falls in the Genoa-Kingston Sectional semifinals at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Even though they don’t even play in the same conference, it was the fourth meeting between Marian and Richmond-Burton (29-8) this season. And with Thursday’s win, the Hurricanes managed to sweep all four games.

“It was nerve-wracking because they’re a good team,” Watling insisted. “It’s not like we ever beat them easily. They were in every match and we know what they were capable of. We were game planning for every scenario they might try and throw at us. And I was pleased that the girls came out all-business.”

Junior middle Meredith Patterson proved to be all business once she stepped behind the service line for the Hurricanes.

Patterson kept the Rockets off-balance and came through with three aces during Marian’s seven-point run that broke open a close contest in the opening game.

With its season on the line, Richmond-Burton came out strong in Game 2. Sophomore middle Kelsey Burlini stepped up with a kill to help the Rockets build a 6-2 edge early on.

The Hurricanes quickly went to senior outside hitter Emma Hussey (8 kills), who put together a big second game, for three straight kills to get back into the match.

After back-to-back aces from sophomore Frankie Taylor, Marian took the lead at 11-9 and never looked back. The Hurricanes extended their advantage to 20-12 with Patterson once again behind the service line.

“We just always let silly mistakes lead to big runs,” Rockets coach Kaycee Kaywood said. “It was just unforced errors.”

Richmond-Burton standout Ali Frantti finished with a game-high nine kills and did what she could to keep the Big Northern Conference East Division champs alive. But it just wasn’t enough against the Hurricanes’ active front line.

The Rockets, led by Frantti and twin sisters Kim (8 kills, 5 digs) and Kara Russell (15 assists), expect to have its entire roster back together next season.

“I think they just need to realize the amount of talent they have,” Kaywood said, “and go out with a little bit more confidence (next year).”

Rockets regroup to drop Indians:
By Maureen Lynch editorial@nwherald.com
RB Rolls after adjustments; MARENGO – Richmond-Burton’s girls volleyball team had seen this ultra-competitive side of Marengo.

The Indians had rolled it out against the Rockets during the two teams’ first meeting of the season Sept. 20, and Marengo took the reigning Big Northern Conference East Division champions into three sets before losing.

Marengo brought the same gutsy attitude that generally precedes an upset into Tuesday’s IHSA Class 3A Marengo Regional semifinal against R-B, and the second-seeded Rockets quickly were forced to look at what could happen if they didn’t adjust their game.

A few key changes in the second set helped offset R-B’s lackluster postseason opening. R-B beat third-seeded Marengo, 25-23, 25-8, to advance to the regional final against top-seeded Marian Central at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Marian beat fifth-seeded Woodstock in the other semifinal.

“I think they were just really nervous coming in here, knowing it’s regionals, knowing what’s at stake,” R-B coach Kaycee Kane said. “I know they really want to move on, and I think they were freaking out a little bit.”

The nerves and thoughts of the rematch with Marian certainly hurt the Rockets (29-7 overall) in Game 1.

Marengo (16-18) jumped ahead, 11-10, on a kill block from senior middle hitter Allison Rogutich (five kills) and forced an R-B timeout later when they led, 21-19.

The Rockets then rattled off five consecutive points, including two kills from Ali Frantti (15 kills) and an ace from libero Marissa Woodward to make it 24-21. Marengo earned sideout with a kill from senior middle Kourtney Heitz and made it 24-23 on an R-B hitting error, but Frantti’s kill gave the Rockets set point.

The Indians lost junior outside hitter Katie Ward down the stretch to a bloody nose, and it immediately affected Game 2.

Marengo never found a rhythm, R-B went up, 11-0, and never looked back.

“Our rotation and lineup was thrown off a little bit and I think it just kind of freaked everyone out,” Marengo coach Marissa Meyers said. “We fought hard in the first one.”

Marian Central 2, Woodstock 0: In the evening’s second semifinal, Marian Central wasted little time dispatching Woodstock (4-28). Senior setter Abby Gilleland had 15 assists and three blocks and junior middle hitter Meredith Patterson had five kills as the ’Canes got a 25-12, 25-9 win.

The Hurricanes (30-6) are looking forward to seeing R-B a fourth time too, coach Laura Watling said. Marian leads the series 3-0, and is intent on a second consecutive trip to the state finals. The Hurricanes finished third in Class 3A last year.

“We have really been coming together,” Watling said. “Everybody is playing their best volleyball right now.”

Woodstock senior outside hitter Brooke Marshall led the Blue Streaks with five kills. Senior setter Jenny Dillon added six assists. (NWHerald 10/26/11)

RB 2, BC 0: @ Richmond, Kim Russell led the Rockets' offense with 10 kills & an ace in the BNC East Division win for RB (28-7, 10-0). Ali Frantti had nine kills and four digs, and Alex Callanan added five kills and six digs for RB. (NWHerald 10/21/11)

NWHerald Top Match: Today: BC @ RB 6:30 p.m --An outright BNC East Division title is on the line for the RB, which holds a one-match lead over Burlington. RB beat Burlington in three sets Oct. 4. A win gives RB back-to-back outright East Division titles. (NWHerald10/20/11)
Division titles determined: Local teams have left few questions in the division title races as the regular season wraps up today. The BNC East Division is the lone spot that can still change. Although RB already claimed a share of the division title, Burlington Central is one win back entering today's showdown with RB. RB has the home-court advantage where they've lost only twice this year (against Marian Cenral & West Aurora). (NWHerald 10/20/11)
Rockets grab big victory:

POPLAR GROVE – The Richmond-Burton volleyball team clinched a share of the Big Northern Conference East Division crown Tuesday with a 25-12, 25-21 win against North Boone.

The Rockets (27-7) improved to 9-0 in the BNC East with the victory behind Ali Frantti’s 12 kills and four aces.

Kara Russell led the team in assists with 17.

The Rockets can win the title outright with a win against Burlington Central on Thursday. (NWHerald 10/19/11)

CL Central Invitational:
By MEGHAN MONTEMURRO - mmontemurro@shawmedia.com

CRYSTAL LAKE – Marian Central setter Abby Gilleland has heard it before on the volleyball court: Stay focused.

As it turns out, being yourself and having fun works just as well, especially in close games.

Battling a Crystal Lake Central team that hadn’t lost at home all season, Gilleland and the Hurricanes remained calm and loose despite blowing multiple four- and five-point leads in the third set against the Tigers with the Crystal Lake Central Invitational title on the line.

Central, armed with senior middle blocker Amelia Anderson, stormed back to tie the game, 20-20. Anderson’s two aces helped push the Tigers to their first lead of the set, 23-20, and they were prepared to put the match away.

Marian didn’t back down facing two match points, though, rallying for the 26-24 win and Invite title in the six-team tournament.

“I think that overall we just played more consistent than we have,” said Marian coach Laura Watling, who believes this is the first time the ’Canes have won this tournament. “It’s not often you see a team improving at this point in the season, but we are.”

Three unforced Central errors tied the game, 24-24, before a Gilleland block and Tara Blake’s kill ended the match. Emma Hussey (33 total kills) and Meredith Patterson (32 kills) posted eight kills in the match, and 25 of Gilleland’s 99 assists came in the 25-21, 18-25, 26-24 win for Marian (28-6, 5-0 tournament).

“Once we started communicating we started to rally back,” Tigers coach Lisa Reddish said. “We tried too hard to get that last point, and we made some uncharacteristic mistakes.”

Anderson (tournament-high 56 kills) led the Tigers (27-6, 4-1) with 20 kills and 21 digs in the loss.

Richmond-Burton wasn’t given an easy opening match, having to face Central in a rematch of their 2-0 loss Sept. 10.

R-B fell behind quickly in the first set, 7-3, and never got closer than three points en route to a 25-18 loss. They bounced back in the second set, jumping to a 7-3 advantage and came within two points, 23-20, of claiming the game. The defense couldn’t stop Central’s Anderson, though, as she tallied four kills in the Tigers’ final six points for the 26-24 win.

“I think the first game there were a lot of missed serves and unforced errors,” R-B coach Kaycee Kaywood said. “In the second set they played the way I know they can play.”

The Rockets finished 3-2 for third place, registering 2-0 wins against Antioch, Sycamore and McHenry. The Hurricanes dealt R-B (26-7) its other loss, which Marian won, 25-22, 25-18. Marian improved to 3-0 against R-B this season.

Kaywood was impressed by the efficiency of outside hitter Ali Frantti (52 kills) and setter Kim Russell (84 assists) but still wants more production from her front row players and improvement at closing out games.

McHenry (15-23) registered a 25-15, 25-23 win against Antioch in their fifth-place finish. Despite a 25-15, 25-22 loss to R-B, the Warriors’ offense – led by Sam Magnussen’s tournament team-high 29 kills – tested the Rockets in the second set after a setter change that improved McHenry’s attack.

“A real up and down day,” Warriors coach Jeff Brunstrum said. “We stayed with it, never really feeling like we gave up.” (NWHerald 10/16/11)

RB 2, GK 0: @ Genoa, Ali Frantti led the Rockets to their eighth consecutive BNC East Division win with nine kills. Alex Callanan had six kills & five digs, & Kara Russell made 14 assists for RB (23-5, 8-0 BNC East). (NWHerald 10/14/11)
RB 2, Marengo 0: RB stays perfect in BNC East:
By MEGHAN MONTEMURRO - mmontemurro@shawmedia.com– It didn’t matter where Richmond-Burton middle hitter Kim Russell stood on the volleyball court against Marengo or what situation the Rockets faced.
Whenever an R-B rally looked dead or the offense was out of sync, setter Kara Russell found her twin sister Kim for the timely kills Tuesday.
“That’s a connection. [Kara] just knows,” Kim Russell said with a laugh.
Kim Russell (11 kills) and outside hitter Ali Frantti (13 kills) overpowered Marengo’s defense in R-B’s 25-16, 25-19 Big Northern Conference East Division win.
Marengo emphasized blocking entering its match against R-B. However the Indians (12-15 overall, 3-4 BNC East) had no answer for the speed of R-B’s offensive attack, which often pounded a kill before Marengo set its block.
“I was very impressed with the speed of our offense and also the movement of our offense,” R-B coach Kaycee Kaywood said. “We’ve been working on that a lot in practice, trying to figure out what our different options are in each one of our rotations so that’s been a huge focus.”
Most importantly, the win keeps the Rockets (22-5, 7-0) atop the BNC East ahead of Burlington Central by one match. R-B faces Central, which they beat in three sets Oct. 4, in their final match of the season at home Oct. 20.
“We want to win conference for sure again,” Frantti said. “We want to be back-to-back conference champs.”
Even though the Rockets won in two sets, they still have room for improvement. R-B was called for five net violations and committed four service errors.
“Always eliminating your simple, silly errors is beneficial to your game,” Kaywood said. “Sometimes we get into a position where we kind of let down a lot, and I don’t think they got down at all tonight.”
Those errors kept the Indians within striking distance in the second set. Three Frantti kills and two aces helped R-B build a 9-3 lead. Unforced errors combined with a Marengo squad that wouldn’t give up cut the Rockets’ advantage to three points, 16-13.
The Indians became their own worst enemies, though. Five Marengo errors helped turn a four-point R-B lead into a seven-point advantage, 23-16. Frantti’s 13th and final kill of the night sealed the Rockets’ victory.
“Our offense is our top priority in the game,” Kara Russell said. “Because without our offense, we don’t really have much. But without a good pass, we don’t really have a good offense so we’ve got to work hard on both.”
Marengo coach Marissa Meyers and the Indians appreciated the challenge of facing the division-leading Rockets, who are 3-0 against Marengo this season. Brooke Dolatowski led Marengo with five kills, while Sadie Fabio dished 12 assists and libero Ashley Borhart tallied nine digs.
“I would have liked to see more out of my middles,” Meyers said. “When we did swing, we were aggressive, finding shots, so overall I was pleased.” (NWHeald 10/12/11)
RB 2, N Boone 0: @ Richmond, Ali Frantti had 12 kills to lead the Rockets to a 25-13, 26-24 BNC East Division win. (NWHerald 9/29/11)
RB 2, GK 0 @ Richmond, the Russell sisters carried the Rockets' offense in their 25-10, 25-17 BNC East Division win. Kara Russell recorded 14 kills while Kim Russell tallied six for RB (15-3, 3-0 BNC East). Ali Frantti added six kills & three digs. (NWHerald 9/23/11)
RB 2, Marengo 1 @ Marengo, Ali Frantti (14 kills, 5 aces), Kim Russell (12 kills, 2 aces) & Alex Callanan (8 kills, 2 aces) combined for 34 kills & nine aces as the Rockets (14-3, 2-0 BNC East) picked up a key road victory. (NWHerald 9/21/11)
RB 2, Lakes 0: @ Richmond, Kara Russell had 15 kils & 24 assists to lead RB (13-3) to a 31-29, 26-24 non-conferance win against Lakes. (NWHerald 9/16/11)
Russell sisters give RB boost: Juniors lift Rockets in BNC East Opener; RB 2, Harvard 0
RICHMOND – On the court, it appears as though the Russell sisters have been playing together most of their lives.
But in only their second year competing on the same team, juniors Kim and Kara Russell are two of the reasons Richmond-Burton has rocketed out to a 12-3 record – including eight consecutive wins to open the season.
The Rockets put their sensational siblings on display in their Big Northern Conference East Division opener Wednesday. Kara opened the match by setting up her twin sister Kim for a kill, and the Rockets took off from there for a 25-10, 25-14 victory against Harvard
Kara, a 5-foot-6 setter, finished with a match-high 21 assists and three aces. Kim, a 5-6 right-side hitter, fired home five kills in the win.
Kim began taking to the sport when she was in seventh grade, while Kara didn’t start playing volleyball until her freshman year. Because they play on different club teams, the girls finally had the opportunity to play together as sophomores a year ago.
“It’s good because we have this connection – the twin connection, I guess,” said Kim, who is about a minute older. “She understands me a lot, and I think just being sisters really helps.”
Although they look almost identical on the court, the Russell sisters are actually fraternal twins. And while they share similar exceptional volleyball skills, the girls possess their own personalities both on and off the court.
“Kim, as our right-side hitter, is a little bit more aggressive,” R-B coach Kaycee Kaywood said. “Kara is always working hard to move the ball around, and she’s a good thinker.”
“They’re both a little goofy,” the coach joked. “But Kim is a bit more serious once she steps on the volleyball court. They’re both amazing girls.”
The Rockets overcame a lackluster effort and 11 missed serves to ease past the winless Hornets. The host team pulled away with a seven-point rally and took an insurmountable 17-7 lead when the Russell sisters teamed up for a block in the first game.
Junior standout Ali Frantti, whose blast ended Game 1, fired home another kill to give R-B a commanding 16-4 advantage in the second game. Alyssa Raymond knocked down the game-clinching kill for the Rockets.
The 5-11 Frantti led the Rockets (12-3 overall, 1-0 BNC East) with 10 kills, two aces and six digs, while junior Alex Callanan keyed the defensive effort with four digs.
“They were playing very slow and didn’t come out with their strongest game,” Kaywood said. “We’re just really trying to move the ball around faster this year.”
Junior outside hitter Randi Blazier finished with two assists, and classmate Stephanie Stephens had seven digs to lead the Hornets (0-10, 0-1).
“There are good days and there are bad days,” Harvard coach Debra Robaczewski said. “Some days I feel like we make so much progress, and other days it seems like we’ve never stepped into the gym to practice.” (NWHerald 9/15/11)
@ Richmond, Sophomore, Alli Frantti had 12 kills, five digs, & two blocks for the Rockets (8-1). Marian 2, RB 0 (NWHerald 9/9/11)
RB Volleyball team still unbeaten: Rockets now stand @ 8-0 RICHMOND *** Richmond-Burton's girls volleyball team remained undefeated Tuesday after a 25-19, 25-18, win against Winnebago. "This is a great start to the season for us,""Rockets coach Kaycee Kaywood said. "We have some more tough games coming up, so we have to stay focused and make sure we are working hard." Kara Russell led the Rockets (8-0) with 16 assists and four aces. Ali Frantti had 13 kills and three digs, and Kim Russell added 10 kills for R-B. (NWHerald 9/7/11)
Rockets make quick work of Winnebago: RICHMOND – The talented trio of Ali Frantti (10), Kim Russell (9) and Alex Callanan (8) combined for 27 kills to lead the Rockets past visiting Winnebago, 25-19, 25-18, in a Big Northern Conference crossover. Kara Russell directed the Rockets’ (2-0) offense and finished with 24 assists, to go along with three aces. Melissa Woodard led the defense with seven digs. (NWHerald 9/2/11)
RB is experienced beyond its years: The Rockets don't have any seniors, but anyone who thinks that matters quickly will realize it doesn't. RB is the favorite to repeat as BNC E Division champions. Setter Kara Russell was masterful last year & connected easily with outside hitter & twin sister, Kim. Sophomore outside hitter Ali Frantti was one of the most promising new players as a freshman, & elevated her game during the club season. Outside hitter Alex Callanan's all around athleticism makes her dangerous in any sport, & she will be tough next to the pin. Libero Marissa Woodward showed last year she can cover the court well. (NWHerald 8/21/11)
Girls Volleyball capsules: RB
Coach: Kaycee Kaywood, 4th season Last season: 27-9, 10-0 BNC East (first)
Top returners: Kim Russell, jr., MH; Kara Russell, jr., S; Ali Frantti, so., OH; Alex Callanan, jr., OH: Marissa Woodward, jr., L.
Key newcomer: Kelsey Burlini, so., MH
What to expect: The Rockets made noise last season as a talented & youg team, & bring that division-wining experience bach this year. Kaywood expects her offense to be fast with several different options. (NWHerald 8/21/11)

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