Boys Volleyball: Lincoln-Way East’s Nate and Austin Royer help take down SandburgSandburg's Scott Fifer (left) and Pat Dudek go up for a block against Lincoln-Way East's Nate Royer during their volleyball game in Orland Park Monday, April 16, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 16, 2012 11:15PM
Bad memories aren’t easy to lose. Then again, sometimes you don’t want to lose them.
Lincoln-Way East outside hitter Nate Royer made good use of one of his to prepare himself mentally for Monday’s SouthWest Suburban Blue match in Orland Park against defending state champion Sandburg.
“In our tournament last year we actually played them in the championship,” Royer said. “It was the worst beating we’ve taken in a while. We definitely had some revenge coming this year.”
The Griffins got it, prevailing 25-27, 25-20, 25-18 as both Royers, Nate and his brother, Austin, carved out a new and much more enjoyable memory.
Nate Royer, a senior, had a career-high 19 kills, to go along with eight digs and two aces. Austin Royer, a sophomore, broke a personal mark with 37 assists.
Others who contributed as East (13-2, 2-0) established itself as an early conference contender were Kevin McClafferty (8 digs, 7 kills), Ryan Vorderer (7 kills) and Jake Tomaras (14 digs).
Sandburg (7-7, 0-2) was led by John Hodul (8 blocks, 7 kills), Scott Fifer (18 assists, 5 kills) and Nick Bendell (12 assists).
Revenge aside, Nate Royer was just happy to knock off the defending state titlist.
“They’re definitely a good team,” he said. “They took (Lincoln-Way) North to three (games), too. So we had to come out gunning, and we did. And we came out on top, so that was good.”
Sandburg had some early success. The Eagles benefited from some service errors by the Griffins in Game 1 and got a late boost from the 6-foot-9 Hodul, who went back to back with a kill and block to break the final tie at 25.
The Eagles had leads in Games 2 and 3, but in both cases came undone because of unforced errors. Two of them allowed the Griffins to rally from a 17-16 deficit in Game 2, and set off a decisive 7-1 run.
McClafferty was key in Game 3 with three straight kills during a 12-2 run that erased a 13-10 hill. The Griffins also got a little lucky, as two get-it-over hits by Vorderer landed untouched, and a serve by Nate Royer slapped the tape and fell over the net for an ace.
The stuff of a state championship contender?
“I feel like we’re very capable of winning it all,” McClafferty said. “We have a good all-around team. Sometimes, like today, we get off to a slow start. But in the end we pick it up, and usually find a way to win.”