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Cats take top perch from Eagles

Libertyville's Kristen Webb (center) celebrates with teammates after game. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

Libertyville's Kristen Webb (center) celebrates with teammates after the game. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 17, 2012 1:58AM

On a night when the Lakes Eagles needed to be perfect to win, it was the host Libertyville Wildcats who were near-purrfect in the North Suburban Conference championship girls volleyball match on Wednesday.

The 25-18, 25-16 result gave the Cats their fourth NSC title in the 13 years of the Championship Match (2012, 2010, 2007, 2003), and extended the Lake Division’s record against the Prairie Division (big schools vs. small schools) to 13-0.

Lakes (19-8) committed 24 errors (hits and serves long, wide, or into the net, or other rule violations leading directly to points) in the match while Libertyville (25-5) committed 14.

With Lakes up 16-14 in the first game, Libertyville scored the next 10 points. The run included a pair of aces from Vicky Liu, kills by Alex Basler and Taylor Zant, and six Lakes errors.

In the second game, Lakes jumped out to an 8-4 lead but Libertyville put together a 17-3 run that buried the Eagles. Long service runs during the stretch included four serves for Kristen Webb, five for Cindy Zhou, and six for Liu.

Zhou, a senior captain and the Wildcats’ star setter, finished with five kills and 13 assists. Senior Julia Smagacz had five kills, Taylor Zant four and Alex Basler three.

“Libertyville was great. They outplayed us,” said Lakes coach Molly May. “We had the lead in both games, but we stopped playing with confidence.

“The nice thing about our team is that we put six girls on the court who can play. We’re not relying on one star player. But when things aren’t going our way, we have to continue to play as a team and rely on each other. The girls know that, but they have to put it into practice.”

On the winning side, Zhou — Libertyville’s senior captain — was elated with the title.

“We’re definitely happy. We knew we had a lot of the physical talent, but over the course of the season, we really developed the mental aspect of our game,” she said. “Once that started to develop. I knew we could do great things, and I hope we’re able to continue.

“Momentum is so important in volleyball,” she added. “Half of the game is execution, but the other half is momentum.”

Libertyville will try to add to its momentum this weekend when it plays in the Crosstown Classic (county tournament). Lakes also is in the strong field.

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