Lake Park got off to a fast start in all three sets in volleyball Tuesday against conference rival and host Waubonsie Valley.
Then the Warriors battled back into contention three times, but the Lancers held them off in two of the three sets for a 25-21, 22-25, 25-18 victory in the Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division clash.
"It's great to come out firing, focused and ready to go," said Lake Park coach Tim Murphy. "And to get big leads. But we seemed to have a lull in the middle of all three sets. In our losses we usually make a few errors at the end of the game. But after slow starts, Waubonsie really stepped up their play."
In the first set Lancers (21-12, 4-1) jumped out a an 8-0 lead, but Waubonsie (11-20, 1-4) closed the gap to 22-21 before a pair of kills by Dillon Hock and one by Quin Krisik put the game away for the Lancers.
In Game 2 the Lancers seemed to be coasting with an 18-9 lead, but then Waubonsie Valley's Michael Simmons, recently returned from a season-long injury, took over with 4 kills to tie it at 19-19. A series of Lake Park errors helped the Warriors win and send the contest into a third set.
In Game 3 it was a similar story. Lake Park was ahead 12-7, and the Warriors closed the gap again to only a point before they fell.
Here the Lancers showed their diverse attack as five hitters scored on 3 kills, 2 blocks and an ace down the stretch.
According to Waubonsie Valley coach Al Lagger, the team has been working on comebacks in practice.
"We start the scrimmage with the starters down by 5 or 6 points and then challenge them to come back," Lagger said. "That translated to the live match today. We worked to fight back and we won the second set but fell short in the others. With a break or two in either set and we're there."
The coach is optimistic that the postseason will be successful with Simmons, one of the best players in Illinois, back on the court.
"The other kids have to get used to playing with him after he's been out so long," Lagger said.
Simmons scored a match-high 16 kills.
Hock had 8 kills in the first game and finished with a team-high 14. Dominick Terry had 11 and Sean Moore dominated the middle with 8 kills and 5 blocks. Anthony Amore was the dig leader with 19 and Krisik had 34 assists.
"This was a good win at a time when we have to get momentum going as we near the playoffs," said Hock, the team's only senior. "Our biggest strength is that we don't have a go-to guy. We spread the ball around a lot and other teams don't know who to key on."
"If we can continue to play the way we've been playing we can make a run in the playoffs," Murphy said. "Generally we play with a lot more energy than we had tonight."