Boys Volleyball:

Story Image Sandburg # 5 Kenny Payonk battles LWE # 6 Erik Stanek at the net in their semifinal sectional match played at LWE 201 Colorado Ave, Frankfort, IL on Friday night 5/25/12.|Judy Fidkowski~For Sun-Times Media

Updated: May 28, 2012 7:19PM



Playing at Brother Rice in late March, Lincoln-Way East pulled out a three-game thriller.

East’s Nate Royer knows not to put too much stock into the regular-season win — especially two months later.

Lincoln-Way East will host Brother Rice at 7 p.m. Tuesday with the sectional title and a bid to the state tournament on the line.

“It’s definitely going to be a tough game,” Royer said. “Brother Rice is on a run now, so it’s not how they were playing at the beginning of the season. It is how you’re playing at the end, so we’ve got to prepare and work hard.”

The host Griffins (35-3) and Brother Rice are two of the hottest teams in the state. East has won 17 straight since falling to Glenbrook North in April in two games at the Smack Attack. Brother Rice (27-12) has gone 16-1 after being at .500 through 22 matches.

“Rice has some real powerful weapons with some great weapons in the middle and on the outside,” East coach Kris Fiore said. “They’re a lot bigger than us, so we’re going to have to devise a game plan to beat that talent they have.”

Beating defending state champion Sandburg on Friday in the sectional semifinals, East turned to its star senior in Royer.

The outside hitter slammed a school-record 22 kills while also managing 10 digs and five blocks in the three-game match.

Fifth-seeded Brother Rice upset the sectional’s top-seeded team, Lincoln-Way North, in three games, dominating Game 3. Mitch Weiler led the way with 12 kills, seven digs and four blocks for the Crusaders.

It isn’t revenge on the minds of Brother Rice, rather it’s continuing its hot play of the last month.

“We’re working on focusing and just playing smarter, so we’re ready to take it all the way,” Weiler said. “We’ve got a pretty good chance of doing well. We’ll be ready to play.”

Lincoln-Way East is seeking its first state appearance since 2007, while Brother Rice hopes to return for the first time since 2008.

At De La Salle, St. Rita (24-14) is gunning for its second straight state appearance. In 2011, the Mustangs won the Reavis Sectional but were upended by Glenbard West in three games at the state quarterfinals.

This season, St. Rita defeated Oak Park-River Forest 23-25, 25-20, 25-20 in the semifinals to set up a rematch with Mount Carmel (18-17). The Caravan has not been to state since 2001, when it finished third.

Over a span of less than three weeks in April and May, the Catholic League Blue rivals played twice, St. Rita taking both matches from Mount Carmel in two games.

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