The hits just keep on coming for the Palatine boys volleyball team.
Led by a smooth combination of blocking, defense and yes, superior hitting, the Pirates improved to 6-1 in the Mid-Suburban West on Thursday with a 25-15, 25-19 win over Hoffman Estates.
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Senior Brian Keough led the way on offense with 9 kills while classmate Christian Frahm, who assistant coach Joyce Richardson called "one of the best liberos we've ever had," was the spark on defense with 9 digs.
"This might be the most fun I've ever had as a coach," said Palatine coach Frank Stark, whose team is 18-6 overall. "We've got just a phenomenal group of guys this season."
"A lot of people doubted us earlier in the year," added Keough. "That motivated us. We knew we were destined for big things, and now we're showing just how good we can be."
The visiting Pirates were able to control the first set handily despite a solid effort by the Hawks on defense, especially from seniors Norman Baig, Jovi Pablo and Ryan Seong.
"Hoffman volleyball is known for defense," said Hawks coach Dan Hutton, "and we're getting closer to where we need to be.
"We played well at times tonight, but we just made too many errors at inopportune times -- and one error compounded with another."
The second set was all Palatine early but a strong Hoffman (4-13, 1-6) rally saw the Hawks close the gap to 11-10 after an athletic block kill from senior Anthony Nguyen.
Then the Pirates got the sideout on a kill by sophomore Ryan Campbell (9-of-10 hitting, 4 kills) and extended the lead to 7 points. A final swing by from Palatine's Jakub Niedzwiecki closed out the match.
"These kids are amazing," said Stark of his squad. "They're one of the hardest-working teams I've ever seen, they've got a great work ethic and they never give up."
Sophomore Matt Stacy swatted 5 kills for Hoffman, while Kyle Obernesser had 2 service aces for the Pirates. Danny Matijevic added 8 kills, 8 digs and a block for the winners.
"We've got an experienced group of seniors on the roster this season," said Frahm. "That means a lot, and I think the key to our team is the amount of energy we bring to every match."
Rolling Meadows d. Prospect: The Mustangs rallied to win a key road matchup 23-25, 25-19, 25-21 to claim a share of the MSL East lead alongside the Knights.
Kevin Murphy (9 kills), Tim Elis (8), David Sobkowicz (7) and Matt Kuzniar (6) led a balanced attack for Rolling Meadows (11-3, 5-2).
Ellis also had 5 blocks and 4 aces, and Brett Frey was 80-for-81 setting with 26 assists for the Mustangs.
Grant Andler led Prospect (11-12, 5-2) with 11 kills, and Curtis Glennon had 9. Mark Mir had 23 assists, and Kyle Formanski had 6 block kills.
Buffalo Grove d. Wheeling: The Bison bounced back from a first-set defeat to win 23-25, 25-8, 25-18 in MSL East play against the visiting Wildcats.
Nikita Bulauski (9 kills) and Evan Bunnetto (8) paced the attack for the Bison (11-12, 4-3).
Tim Lee (12 kills) and Jon Marquez (8) were top hitters for Wheeling (10-14, 1-6).
St. Viator d. Notre Dame: The host Lions rolled to an East Suburban Catholic Conference victory by taking care Notre Dame in two sets, 25-15 and 25-14.
Ethan Wolf had 6 kills and served 10-for-10 with 3 aces, and Ben Wolf had 11 kills and 5 digs.
Austian Ziakas was 7-for-7 hitting with 4 kills, and Brennan Harrington was 44-for-44 setting with 23 assists as St. Viator improved to 15-4 overall and 3-0 in the ESCC.
Barrington d. Schaumburg: The host Broncos turned back Schaumburg's challenge 25-20, 25-22 in MSL West play.
Top contributors for Schaumburg (12-11, 3-3) included Romario Rios (7 kills), Jeremy Musni (8 assists) and Jack Sullivan (5 digs).
Fremd d. Conant: Eric Scott and Venkat Ganne provided 8 kills apiece and teammate Aaron Kent had 6 to help the visiting Vikings win 25-14, 25-18 in MSL West action. David Kim was 48-for-50 setting with 22 assists for Fremd (10-13, 3-4).
Patryk Openchowski had a team-best 4 kills and Mark Tomuta had 7 digs for Conant (1-17, 0-6).
Hersey d. Elk Grove: The visiting Huskies produced a dominant effort in the third set of MSL East play to win 25-18, 19-25, 25-10.
Mike Fuerst finished with 11 blocks, Fotis Christacos was 15-for-15 serving with 22 digs, Bart Migus delivered a match-best 13 kills and Matt Torvik had 30 assists for Hersey.
Jake Braceros had 12 digs, Matt McKenna had 11 and Ray Kraus had 12 assists for Elk Grove (15-10, 3-4).