WOODSTOCK – After a 13-win improvement, Woodstock's volleyball team entered the year with high expectations.
So far, the Blue Streaks have been perfect.
On Monday, Woodstock beat defending Kishwaukee River Conference champion Johnsburg, 25-11, 25-18, in the conference opener for both teams. The Streaks (8-0, 1-0) have yet to lose a set in eight matches.
"I was expecting it," Woodstock coach Jill Rokosik said of the team's start. "We’ve prepared well, and a lot of our seniors have a lot of varsity experience. Many of them play year round, so they’re getting a lot of good touches. There's a lot of familiarity."
"We have a returning group that really knows how to work well together."
Woodstock jumped out to a commanding 8-2 lead in the first set against Johnsburg (0-7, 0-1) and pushed its lead to 15-3 with a 7-0 run. Senior outsider hitter Hanna Berry led all players with six kills and four aces, including three aces in the first set.
Senior Sophie Wicker had 17 assists, and seniors Emma Brand and Lauryn Hahn had five kills each. Woodstock finished with eight aces with Ella Wicker, Maddy Hughes, Grace Karner and Anna Almeida each recording one.
Berry said communication has been key to the Streaks' fast start.
"We've been communicating really well, and we all want it really bad," said Berry, who is committed to NCAA Division II Truman State. "This year, it seems like everyone is really in it for the team."
The Streaks tied for third with Woodstock North in the KRC a year ago, both going 8-4. Wicker was excited to start the conference season strong Monday.
Two years ago, the Streaks had only 11 wins and were 2-10 in the KRC.
"It feels so awesome to start our conference season like that," Wicker said. "Going in 7-0 puts a little bit of pressure on us. It feels good to beat a strong competitor we had last season. We've been connecting well, and we have the benefit of being able to have played together for a really long time."
Johnsburg graduated eight seniors, including three starters from last year's KRC champion. Injuries have been a problem early for the Skyhawks.
"We got the injury bug pretty bad," Skyhawks coach Jackie Barnette said. "It's been a struggle. At one point, we had five out at the same time. They've had a limited number of practices.
"It's going to take a little while. We'll be a different team in a week or two. We have people playing in spots they wouldn't normally be."
Shannon Flynn led Johnsburg with three kills and a block, and Alex Burke had two kills, a block and an ace.
Woodstock is hoping its fast start carries deep into the conference season and beyond.
"To be honest, I expect us to win (the KRC)," Berry said. "If we have the drive, which we do, we're fully capable of winning conference."
STAR OF THE MATCH
Hanna Berry, Woodstock, sr., OH
Berry had six kills and four aces as the Blue Streaks improved to 8-0 wiith a sweep against defending KRC champion Johnsburg.
0: Woodstock has yet to lose a set in eight matches.
AND ANOTHER THING …
Senior Sophie Wicker led Woodstock with 17 assists. Her sister, freshman Ella Wicker, had a team-high six digs.