Maine West had a strong beginning and a strong finish to each set in Wednesday's match against Niles North.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, too many errors in the middle part of both games led to a Central Suburban North loss.
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The Vikings defeated visiting Maine West 25-20, 25-20 despite seeing the Warriors rally from way behind in both the first and second sets.
According to West senior Ken Fester, the way the Warriors played against North was a microcosm of the entire season.
"We tend to do that over and over," Fester said. "We'll be feeling good and hitting the ball well, then we'll lose our focus and get down on ourselves. We won't lose just 1 or 2 points -- it'll start to snowball and we'll lose 3, 4, 5 straight points."
"We can't keep letting mistakes get to us," added Warriors coach Randy Tiller, who watched his team play brilliantly in stretches but also allowed the Vikings to go on extended runs. "We have to dismiss what happened on the last point and just move on to the next point."
The Warriors (2-10, 1-3) found themselves down 20-10 in the first game before a spectacular double block by Fester and DJ O'Neill ignited the visitors.
West got within 23-19, but a couple of hitting errors sandwiched around a kill by Warriors senior Tomasz Ksiazkiewicz (team-high 7 kills) helped North take a one-set lead.
"At times we'll be playing our best," Ksiazkiewicz said. "Then we'll have some shaky passes and missed serves, and it'll all start to go downhill. It's a simple fix -- we've just got to stop making mental mistakes."
It was deja vu in game 2 for the Warriors as they trailed 19-12 but found another stellar play to pump them up.
Ksiazkiewicz leapt high above the net to spike the ball straight down with authority for a kill, inspiring his teammates and drawing a chorus of oohhs and aahhs from the crowd.
West drew within 23-20 but a Niles North winner then a Warriors hit wide handed the match to the Vikings.
"Volleyball is an emotional game," Tiller said. "And we've got to find a way to harness those emotions. The quiet guys on the team have to step up and the emotional guys have to pull the quiet guys along."
Glen Beatty had 6 kills for the Warriors, while O'Neill led a nice blocking effort with 3.
"I feel that our team this year has tremendous potential," Tiller added. "Our blockers are the biggest we've ever had, and the vertical leap of Glen (Beatty) is amazing. He can leap high above almost any block.
"We've got an experienced setter (Fester) and some great passers such as Paraj Patel, Eric Walusiak and Peter Tedeshi. But if you look at our momentum chart (Wednesday night), you can see that mistakes drive us down, and then it takes a spark to get us back up."