Zion-Benton eliminates Stevenson
At the Barrington boys volleyball sectional, Stevenson ran smack dab into what some are saying is a team of destiny.
Or maybe it's simply a talented, motivated swarm of Zee-Bees.
But whatever you want to name them, there's one thing you can for certain call No. 6 seed Zion-Benton: Sectional finalists.
Despite overcoming an almost insurmountable deficit in the second game, the Patriots fell 25-23, 23-25, 25-16 to the Zee-Bees in Friday's semifinals.
Zion-Benton (29-8), led by the solid hitting of 6-foot-5 senior right side Josh Hieb (10 kills), moves on to play Barrington at 7 p.m. Tuesday night for the right to advance to next weekend's state finals.
It's the deepest a Z-B team has ever advanced in the boys volleyball playoffs.
"This is great to see," said Hieb. "I've got a great group of teammates, and after all we've been through over the last three years, I couldn't be happier for them."
Stevenson coach Tim Crow said his team had no excuses after the loss ended their season at 31-5.
"The bottom line is," said Crow, "is that they were the better team and they deserved to win tonight."
Three aces from Zion-Benton senior Jorge Wence led Z-B to the Game 1 win, and when the Zee-Bees grabbed an 18-12 lead in the second game, it looked all but over.
Then second-seeded Stevenson, behind the hitting of junior outside Brad Tiller (match high 17 kills), responded with a furious rally to even the match.
"Usually when that happens," said Crow, "the momentum carries over for you to the third game. But not this time."
The Patriots did get out to a quick 2-0 lead, but Z-B wasn't rattled, and behind the hitting of Hieb and DJ Reynolds (5 kills), it opened up a 20-13 advantage as the large contigent of Z-B fans roared their approval.
Unfortunately for the Patriots, they couldn't duplicate the comeback of Game 2 and a final serve into the net ended the match.
Stevenson setter Jonah May had 37 assists on 66-of-66 setting, while his counterpart on the Zee-Bees, Wence, had 19 helpers.
"This match was just like Wednesday against Vernon Hills," said Z-B coach Jacob Carlson, referring to the Zee-Bees' 3-game regional final win over the third-seeded Cougars. "We lost a lead in that match too but the guys kept their composure and rallied just like tonight.
"We know Barrington is a strong team, but we're excited to play."
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