CARPENTERSVILLE – Crystal Lake Central senior outside hitter Krissy Pratt was on a mission during Tuesday's Class 4A regional semifinal against Prairie Ridge.
With the Tigers up one game but holding only a two-point lead in Game 2, Pratt stepped up and became their go-to hitter. She tallied six of the Tigers' final nine points – all off kills – as Central secured the 25-16, 25-16 win against the Wolves. No. 2-seeded Central (32-4) advances to Thursday's regional final, where they will play No. 1 Crystal Lake South. The Gators beat No. 4 Cary-Grove 25-21, 25-20.
"It was really a need-to-win kind of feel," said Pratt, who finished with a match-high 11 kills. "The whole team had it. We started off a little slow and realized, hey this is regionals. This is the state series and we all came together and pulled it out which was so fun to play in that atmosphere."
The Tigers' defense left little open space for No. 3 Prairie Ridge and it wasn't just one player who made it difficult for the Wolves to score. Five Tigers recorded at least six digs led by senior libero Annie Fox's 13 digs.
"Our defense plays a big part in our ability to run our offense – to stop the opponent, to frustrate them, to never let a ball hit the floor," Central coach Lisa Reddish said. "And tonight we did that. We played some scrappy defense."
Wolves coach Stefanie Otto said the Wolves (21-16) didn't play their best volleyball. At one point in Game 2, Prairie Ridge led 12-9, but after a Central timeout the Tigers went on a 6-0 run and did not trail the rest of the match. Ali Witt and Kennedy McNeil led the Wolves with five kills apiece.
"In the first game, I thought we came out timid, just trying to keep the ball inbounds and not really going after it," Otto said. "I thought we did a little better to start the second game, but a couple mistakes happened and we let it get to us."
The win sets up the rematch Central was hoping for with South winning Tuesday's first regional semifinal.