Tasty victory for Warren
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The cookies were a great postgame snack.
But maybe the next time the Warren boys volleyball team plays, they should be brought out ahead of time.
"We needed the cookies," Warren senior outside hitter Riley Capizzi said with a laugh. "We needed the sugar."
The sixth-seeded Blue Devils got a 25-13, 25-22 win over No. 11 Carmel in regional semifinal play on Tuesday, but it wasn't necessarily as sweet as they were hoping it would be.
After an efficient first game, Warren, which moves to 26-10 and will host No. 3 Barrington in the regional championship at 7 p.m. today, put away the second game only after a struggle. Part of that was due to better play from Carmel, but part of it was the Blue Devils' own doing. They came out flat.
"The energy was down after that first game" said Capizzi as he munched on a chocolate chip cookie, one of many provided to the team by athletic director Mark Pos, who brought in a platter of leftovers from a meeting he hosted earlier. "After winning that game, I think we thought we could just lay off. We were just kind of sitting on our heels.
"Momentum and energy is everything in volleyball. We just needed to keep our energy up more."
Carmel needed to keep the errors down.
The Corsairs allowed Warren to score 30 of its 50 points off of their own mistakes. Many of their errors came down to basics, such as missed serves or bad passes.
"That's a catastrophic number," Carmel coach Kevin Nylen said of the errors. "It's been a problem for us all year. We knew we would have to limit our mistakes to play with them and we didn't do that."
And yet, Carmel (16-16) pushed and pushed Warren to the brink in the second game.
The Blue Devils ran out to a 4-0 lead but then Carmel pulled back in with a couple of big runs. A string of 3 service points by Kyle Zeman cut the Corsairs' deficit to just 2 points (18-16), and that continued to be the margin throughout most of the remainder of the game.
"Our energy was better and we had less of those unforced errors in the second game," said Carmel hitter Brad Gadek, who finished with 4 kills as teammates Derek Clement and Matt Campbell led the way with 7 and 5 kills respectively. "We just played better volleyball.
"We got guys going and we were motivated."
The Blue Devils entered the game with their own source of motivation.
Carmel upset Warren in regional play last season.
"It was kind of the same thing last year," Capizzi said. "We should have won that game, but we kind of played down to them. At least we won this time."
Capizzi did his best to make sure of it. He rolled up a match-high 8 kills, to go along with 5 digs. Teammate Vuk Jakovljevic added 5 kills, 6 digs, 2 aces and 2 blocks.
Bryant Holland led Warren with 15 digs and setter Arvind Kouta had 16 assists.
"We won but we really have to work on our energy and enthusiasm," Warren coach Yun Chen said. "It didn't meet my standard today. I told the guys that it was like we just kind of slept right through the game.
"If they do this tomorrow night, they're going to get beat, and it's not going to be pretty."
It certainly wouldn't be sweet.
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