MINOOKA – For the second time in six days, the girls volleyball teams from Plainfield Central and Minooka met and as was the case in last Thursday's Southwest Prairie Conference match in Plainfield, Tuesday's nonconference rematch went three sets.
But there was one significant difference between the two matches, and that involved the play of the Wildcats' Taylor Landfair, who performed well in the earlier meeting but really elevated her game on a night where the Indians hosted their annual 'Hits for HUGS' match that benefits Shorewood HUGS, a local organization that supports those in need.
While Landfair had 17 kills and hit .333 in her team's three-set win last Thursday, she smashed those totals by recording a season-high 30 kills to go along with a .426 hitting percentage while recording three blocks and seven digs.
With Landfair leading the way, Central rallied from an opening-set loss to claim a 21-25, 26-24, 25-22 victory over Minooka which also marked its 20th win of the season.
"Being able to do all that I did is because when I come to practice, my teammates always push me and I always push them really hard," Landfair said. "And it also come with my setters, too, who always give me a good ball that I can hit. After the first set we all regrouped and discussed what we needed to do to come out back on top after just beating them the other day. Playing on 18's last year has really helped me to mature a lot because now I know if that if I hit five balls hard, then I know that I can take that little roll shot."
While the records posted on the IHSA website are not official and are missing unreported totals, she is one of just 20 players who are listed that collected 30 or more kills in a match.
Needless to say, Wildcats coach Erik Vogt was very excited to see Landfair's best match of the season come not only against a quality team like Minooka but also as his team gets closer to competing in what figures to be a very-challenging Plainfield North Sectional.
"Taylor played unbelievably well and this is her career-high," Vogt said. "To put it into perspective, to hit .426 is what the best collegiate middles hit, so for her to do that is literally an unprecedented number at our level, so she really had an outstanding game. In the third set alone, she had 11 kills and hit .421. But it also was a collective effort and I couldn't be happier with our group. I think we like going three more than we like going two."
Whatever attack mode Landfair utilized seemed to work for the Wildcats (20-5), even in the first set, which the Indians (16-11) used a late surge to take the early advantage.
The set was tied at 17-17 following a kill by Central's Regan Trueblood before the Indians took control with kills from Heidi Bonde (14 kills) and Hailey Sperling that preceded a few hitting errors to make it 22-17.
With Landfair attempting to rally the Wildcats, Minooka wrapped up the win in the set with a kill by Zoey Seput (39 assists, eight digs, six blocks) and a block from Hannah Justak and Desi Anderson (16 digs).
In the middle set, Central jumped out to an early 11-4 lead before the hosts rallied to take a 12-11 lead. With Kerrigan Candra (eight kills, five digs) and Landfair contributing several kills, the Wildcats went up 24-19 before the Indians rallied with a 5-0 run with Bella Alessio (11 kills, three blocks, 18 digs) serving up four points
In the final set, Minooka took the early lead and used a four-point service run from Nicole Kijowski to grab a 14-7 advantage. But Landfair responded with six kills and two blocks to put her team in front for good at 18-17.
They gradually pulled away following a kill from Landfair, an ace from Quiara Dunson and a block from Trueblood to make it 22-18. Minooka got as close as two points following a block from Anderson and a kill by Alessio. The Wildcats also got 16 digs from Katie Shook.
"I'm very proud of our girls since they didn't give up," Indians coach Carrie Prosek said. "We were down 24-19 in the second set and they came back and who could not be proud of kids who came back to tie it at 24-24. One thing that we can learn from this is fixing the mental part of the game when it gets close. In the second set, Taylor single-handedly beat us. She's a great player and I was proud of my team for digging her."