Witmer delivers for Naperville North
Updated: May 26, 2011 12:29PM
It was a double graduation night for the seniors on Naperville North’s volleyball team on Wednesday.
First the sixth-seeded Huskies graduated to the sectional semifinals on Friday when they pulled a mild upset by beating third-seeded Downers Grove North 21-25, 25-21, 27-25 to win the Hinsdale South Regional championship.
Then the seniors rushed off to attend their actual graduation from high school in the evening.
After dropping the first game, the Huskies, led by Shane Witmer’s 20 kills, pulled together and played outstanding volleyball to give themselves a little graduation present.
“We came out a little lackadaisical,” Witmer said. “But we didn’t want this to be our last game and everyone was just outstanding. We’ve been playing really well lately.”
“For the past three weeks we finally have had our whole team on the court and that really shows,” said Naperville North coach Nate Bornancin. “Shane was fantastic, 20 kills and only three errors. He’s been our go-to player for the past three years, but tonight everyone stepped up.”
Witmer’s kill total was only good for co-match high as the other superstar on the court Downers Grove North’s Greg Petty also put down 20 kills.
“I’m happy with the way we came out in the first game,” said Downers Grove North coach Mark Wasik. “But we made too many unforced errors and Naperville North is a good team and they capitalized on them.”
The Trojans (32-5) led the entire way in Game 1 as they played with great energy and executed better than the Huskies (26-11)
Game 2 went to Naperville North, which took the lead for good at 7-6 and increased it to nine points at 16-7. The Trojans fought back and got to within three and then Witmer closed the game with a kill.
The third game favored the Trojans early, but with Witmer leading the way, Naperville North pulled ahead at 10-9 and led by as many as five points, before Downers North began a charge that would see them at tie the game at 23, 24 and 25.
The Trojans faced match point three times before North wrapped it up at 27-25.
“The guys did a great job of making adjustments during the match,” Bornancin said. “We got a lot of touches on their swings and we did a great job of defending their middles. Our guys are playing with a lot of confidence. The seniors know that this is it and they want to keep playing.”
Naperville North’s Spencer Sauter also had an outstanding game with 10 assists and seven digs, Danny Boryca was the dig leader with nine and Matt Jennings added four blocks , Witmer had three blocks and Henry Cheatham had four kills.
In addition to praising Witmer’s volleyball skills, Bornancin cited his senior all-star’s leadership skills that have helped the team to this end-of-season surge that finds them playing their best volleyball of the year.
“Shane knows a lot about volleyball,” said Bornancin. “He’s helping his teammates out in the huddle and giving them great feedback. A lot of our success can be traced to how he’s communicating with other players on the court.”
For Downers Grove North, JP Tulacka had 11 kills and Jordan Thompson had five blocks. Setter Zach Park dealt 31 assists. Brooks Nevrly led with seven digs.
“We saw the best players on each team giving it all they had,” said Wasik. “The question was who is going to step up around these guys and make a difference. We didn’t have those difference-makers today. Normally we do. We made a nice comeback in the third game and had an opportunity to win. But we made a costly hitting error with the game tied a 23-23.”