Muys steps up to push Sandburg past MaristSandburg's Kevin Payonk (31) sets up the ball for the winning point, at Tuesday night's game between Marist and Sandburg on Tuesday, May 31, 2011, in Orland Park. | Paul James Bergstrom~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 31, 2011 9:26PM
The berth at Friday’s state quarterfinals was within his grasp, and Sandburg’s Andrew Muys went out and grabbed it.
After some early struggles in Tuesday’s Sandburg sectional final, Muys stepped up on the biggest stage when his team needed him most. The senior’s game-winning kill in the opener rolled over into the second as Sandburg dominated rival Marist 25-23, 25-16 to advance to state.
“Im at a loss for words,” Muys said. “The first game I just wasn’t playing well hitting-wise at all. I wanted to pick it up in the second, and I had some great blocks.”
Sandburg (36-3) will play New Trier Friday at 6 p.m. in the state quarterfinals at Hoffman Estates High School.
Muys had eight kills and three blocks for the Eagles to go with efforts from Scott Fifer (19 assists), Phil Hanrahan (13 digs), Bill Siroky (seven kills) and Tom Carmody (8 blocks).
Kevin Morrison (six kills), Sean Connelly (four kills) and Garrett Dempsey (15 assists) all contributed for Marist (33-6) as the RedHawks bid for a repeat state championship was ended.
Having played each other twice in the regular season, neither team showed any sign of bending in the opener as Sandburg tied the score at 17 following Muys first kill.
“It doesn’t matter how much talent they have or how much we have,” Sandburg coach Sean Airola said. “We’re going to give each other our best. Marist fought. That’s what they do.”
The Muys kill jump-started the Eagles who rattled off four straight points with kills from Siroky and Fox highlighting the run.
But leading by a single point at 24-23, Muys made his presence felt. On a back row attack, the senior skied for a pass from Fifer and put the ball down for the game-winner.
“Muys made an incredible swing that first game,” Marist coach Bob St. Leger said. “In the state, 99 out of 100 kids hit that into the net or out of bounds.”
The game-winner seemed to suck the energy from the Marist sideline, and Sandburg took advantage in the second game. After Marist hit into the net, Muys provided two huge blocks at the net, and the run was on. The Eagles raced out to an 8-1 advantage and never looked back, clinching their first state title berth since the 2005 season.
“We’ve been playing well all season, but once the playoffs started we gelled,” Fifer said. “Thats the best time to do it, and we’ve had two really good, intense matches at sectionals.”
For the second-seeded RedHawks, the repeat championship just wasn’t in the cards.
“We talked about giving our last ounce of effort on every play, and thats what we did,” St. Leger said. “We have no regrets.”