The St. Charles East boys volleyball team simply refused to go away Tuesday night in its cross-town rivalry match with St. Charles North.
But the North Stars, overcoming missed opportunities in a potential two-set match, had just enough, scoring the final 4 points of the schools' Upstate Eight Conference River Division contest to emerge victorious, 21-25, 25-20 and 25-22, at home in St. Charles.
St. Charles North trailed 22-21 after Mark Healy completed a 12-6 Saints' rally with an ace, but it would prove to not only be the final St. Charles East lead but also its last point as well.
Kevin Beach had one of his team-high 9 kills to forge the final tie; a St. Charles East net violation tipped the balance, and Zach Ziesmer brought the home team match point with another kill.
The hard-fought -- though at times not necessarily well-played -- match came to a close moments later when a St. Charles East kill attempt sailed out of bounds.
"All the errors were uncharacteristic of our team," said Beach, whose club was repeatedly victimized by hitting errors and service mistakes. "We knew we could pull it out. We executed very well with those (last) 4 points. We felt we were in control."
Beach had bookend points -- a kill and an ace -- to frame a 7-2 North Stars' third-game run that provided the club with its largest lead of the game at 15-10.
After a St. Charles East timeout, the Saints (10-13, 1-1) responded with three straight points and ultimately returned the 7-2 run to knot the contest at 17-17.
But St. Charles North resumed the trend of mini-runs with three consecutive points.
That is when Luke Spicer personally took the Saints' fortunes into his own hands.
The junior outside hitter had 3 blistering kills in succession -- and four in a five-point sequence -- to deadlock the third set at 20-20 and 21-all.
"I can't do anything if I don't get the pass," said Spicer, who ended with 8 kills for the match. "It all starts with my teammates. I'm the third man (in the attack, following the blocker/digger and setter)."
The North Stars (18-3, 2-0), though, would maintain pace with defending divisional champion Geneva with their late run.
"We can't look ahead," St. Charles North coach Todd Weimer said. "We're not even halfway through (the) conference schedule."
The River will be decided on a mere 5 league matches.
"You pretty much have to win them all," Weimer said.
St. Charles East fell behind 6-1 in the opening minutes of the first game, only to storm back, ending the game on a 16-8 run to win 25-21.
The Saints did not take their first lead until Tom Dieter blocked a North Stars' kill attempt, and Spicer had another kill for the final offensive point as St. Charles North ended the game with three straight hitting miscues.
But St. Charles North forced a rubber set by scoring 17 of the final 29 points after the teams witnessed only the second tie of the middle game at 8-8.
Ryan DalDegan (21) and Beach (11) combined for a 32 digs for St. Charles North, which also received 20 assists and 10 digs from Pat Misiewicz.
R.J. Yoder had a team-high 9 kills for the Saints; Tom DeBruyne had a match-high 27 assists for St. Charles East, and Healy had a team-high 13 digs.
"All the games were fairly tight," St. Charles East coach Kate McCullagh said. "There were a few (critical points) that didn't go in our favor."