So much for no crying in volleyball.
Antioch volleyball coach Jamie Atkinson wasn't shy about admitting what a fine group of seniors she had to say so long to at the Lake Zurich regional on Monday night.
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She had some teary good-byes to make to those Sequoits following a competitive regional opener. The home-standing Bears prevailed 25-20, 25-22 to advance to Tuesday's regional semifinal match with a strong Deerfield club.
"They are just a fun group,'' Atkinson said. "We came down here prepared to give it a whirl."
Antioch (8-16) had its chances early in set one but that was before Lake Zurich's dangerous server Mike Savio went into his act. Two consecutive serving aces and some key blocking from both Matt Carmody and Jon Gaide and the Bears were off and running.
The Bears' lead was 16-11, with again Savio serving and a Carmody kill.
"We've had some problems with our focus at the end of games,'' Savio said. "So it was nice to figure it out tonight."
A Pat Bush kill ended set one with the Bears on top.
And then those seniors from Antioch made set two a little more interesting.
"We took a big step up from last year,'' said Antioch senior Ryan Lannert. "We just needed to keep our momentum going."
Again the Bears (15-20) surged out to a lead in set two. And then Christian Peterson and Andrew Gagnon teamed up on a block and Antioch had a lead. The Sequoits held that lead until it was 20-19.
"Hey, we fought hard and didn't give up," said Antioch senior Ian Keller.
Another Sequoits senior, Giovanni Winters, had the final kill of the season for his team and that forged a 22-22 tie. Lake Zurich ran off the final 3 points of the night.
"It was like one little mistake,'' Atkinson said. "We came out fighting but we needed to do a better job of finishing. Lake Zurich is a good team and they are still young."
Now, before feeling sorry for Antioch and all those graduating seniors, Atkinson noted that ninth-grader Nathan Borries played in this match and she is encouraged by the youth in her program.
Clearly the task will be harder for the Bears tomorrow night when Deerfield enters the Lake Zurich gym as the favorite. Savio and the Bears will be waiting.
"I thought in the second game we really came together,'' Savio said. "We said we were not going to lose. And then we went out and scored the next few points."
Unlike the Sequoits, the Bears will bring back a number of players next season, including Savio.
"We've had a good season,'' he said. "I think it's a building season for next season. We just need to get better in the off-season."
That Deerfield club stands in the way for now.
"Hey, we took down Buffalo Grove,'' Savio said. "So anything is possible if we bring our level of play up."