Boys Volleyball: Lincoln-Way East ousts defending champs; Brother Rice downs Lincoln-Way North

Story Image LWE fans rush onto the floor from the left to congratulate LWE Boys Volleyball team after they beat Sandburg in their semifinal sectional game played at LWE 201 Colorado Ave, Frankfort, IL on Friday night 5/25/12.|Judy Fidkowski~For Sun-Times Media
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Updated: May 25, 2012 10:55PM

Having pushed Lincoln-Way East to three games in both regular-season meetings, Sandburg finally looked to have the Griffins figured out Friday night.

Even trailing five points in the third game, East’s Nate Royer wasn’t about to let it happen.

“We thought about it a little, but our team’s been through a lot of three game matches,” Royer said. “When we’re down, we try and calm down, knowing we can get through it.”

Royer led the comeback charge, helping lift host East to a 25-19, 26-24, 25-22 win over the defending state champs in Sandburg. Lincoln-Way East will play Brother Rice at 7 p.m. Tuesday for the sectional title.

Royer had five blocks, 10 digs and a school-record 22 kills for East (35-3). Nate Royer (39 assists) and Jake Tomaras (19 digs) also contributed for the Griffins.

Nick Bendell (19 assists), Mike Scannell (16 kills) and Paul Chmura (6 kills) led Sandburg (26-12).

After dropping Game 2, the Griffins trailed 15-10 in Game 3. Nate Royer closed out strong, slamming five kills, including two of three final points.

“Austin gets the ball to whoever’s open, and tonight it was me,” Royer said. “If it’s me, I’m OK with that, but Austin gets it where it needs to be.”

The loss marked the end of an up-and-down season for the defending champion Eagles, but coach Sean Airola was more than pleased with the performance.

“East will be a tough team to knock out,” Airola said. “The Royer brothers are tough, but I was very happy with how we played.”

Brother Rice 25-20-25, Lincoln-Way North 18-25-19: A team wallowing along at 11-11 through the middle of the season, Brother Rice continued its remarkable turnaround Friday night.

Pulling away late, the Crusaders upset Lincoln-Way North, the sectional’s top-seeded team, 25-18, 20-25, 25-19.

“We just started off too easy early in the season, but we’ve been focused since,” Brother Rice’s Mitch Weiler said. “We’re working on being smarter in the match, and now we’re ready to take it all the way.”

Weiler had 12 kills, seven digs and four blocks for Brother Rice (27-12). Dan Dwyer dished out 25 assists, with Ryan Paull adding eight kills and four blocks.

Haakon Skrodal had nine kills and Ryan McFarland had 37 assists for North (33-6), which was making the its first sectional appearance.

Surrendering a late lead in Game 2, Brother Rice was dominant through the third. The Crusaders pulled ahead 17-10, Matt Kill helping close the door late with two kills and a block. Paull’s eighth kill ended things.

“The guys are simply playing within the system,” Brother Rice coach Br. Paul Ickes said. “Now they understand the kind of hard work it takes.”

North coach Matt Lawrence gave a nod to the victorious Crusaders.

“Rice played great, and they seemed to win every long rally,” Lawrence said. “They were getting the kills that we just couldn’t get today. A string of errors, and you can’t do that against a very good team.”

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