Boys Volleyball: Lincoln-Way East knocks off Lincoln-Way North for tourney title
Updated: May 5, 2012 6:20PM
Lincoln-Way East did not have to wait until Thursday’s regularly-scheduled trip to Lincoln-Way North to get another shot at the Phoenix, who earlier this season handed the Griffins one of their three losses.
The two teams met in the finals of the Lincoln-Way East Invitational Saturday in Frankfort, and although Griffins coach Kris Fiore had a bit of a déjà vu moment in the second game, the hosts rallied for a 25-19, 25-27, 15-11 victory.
Senior middle Eric Stanek led No. 3 Lincoln-Way East (28-3) with nine kills and a block, sophomore middle Ryan Vorderer added five kills and two blocks, Austin Royer had 31 assists and tournament MVP Nate Royer added seven kills and 10 digs.
“We’ve been talking about (a rematch) for a while,” said Stanek, whose second kill of Game 3 gave the Griffins a 13-10 lead. “We wanted another shot at them for a while. It’s big, it’s really big. It gives us some momentum. We’re excited about seeing them again Thursday.”
After Kevin McClafferty’s kill capped a 9-3 run in Game 1 that gave Lincoln-Way East an insurmountable 22-14 lead, the hosts threatened to run away with Game 2 after a kill by Stanek put them up 16-9. But North refused to go away and countered with a 13-3 run to wipe out the deficit.
“The first time we played them, too, we had a lead in the third game and gave it up right at the end,” Fiore said. “It was déjà vu in that second game tonight of what happened earlier this season.”
With the second game tied at 25, North forced a third game with consecutive blocks by Haakon Skrodal and sophomore Jake Walenga.
“We eased up a little in the second game,” Nate Royer said. “But we got in the huddle between games and said we got to get down to business and get this thing done. We knew we could because we’ve done it a lot in the past. We have a good team that can come back and do that.”
Kills by Steve Kolodziej and Nate Royer gave Lincoln-Way East an 11-8 lead in Game 3 and the Griffins were able to side-out their way to the win.
“It was definitely one of the most exciting matches I’ve played in, and probably one of the best matches I played,” Stanek said. “We knew going in the third game we had to erase the second game from our memories and play tough. We got them in the first game. We just wanted to repeat that.”
Fiore said his team’s middles — Vorderer and Stanek — were the difference.
“The first time we saw them, their middles outplayed ours,” he said. “This time, our middles outplayed them. They’re not very tall, but they’re athletes. They’re not the focal point of our offense, but if you don’t pay attention to them very much they’ll take advantage of it.”
“We know we’re not the biggest guys, so we have to work on defense and passing and all that stuff,” Stanek said. “The same thing with North. We all come from the same area, so it kind of evens out. Maybe they don’t feed us the right way down here. I don’t know.”
Sophomore Jake Walenga’s 11 kills led No. 5 Lincoln-Way North (28-3).
“For his age, he is really a very skilled player,” Lincoln-Way North coach Matt Lawrence said. “He brings it. When it’s time to compete, he’s on. He’s been on fire for the last couple weeks. He’s done a great job.”
Sophomore Brad McFarland added eight kills and two blocks, libero Zach Blasgen had 19 digs and an ace and senior setter Ryan McFarland had 28 assists and two kills for the Phoenix.
“East is just a very good team,” Lawrence said. “They passed really well all day and they have a lot of explosive players. I’m proud of the way my guys came back in Game 2. Hopefully, we can build on that the next time we play them. Hopefully, we’ll get off to a better start.”