The libero never seems to belong. They play defense. They even wear different jerseys.
But Metea Valley defensive specialist Tom Wieland was a key component for the Mustangs during their 25-21, 25-14 sweep of Glenbard East in a regional semifinal match played Tuesday night in Lombard.
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Wieland had 5 digs, but his biggest came late in the first game with Metea Valley holding a 23-20 edge. Wieland popped up a powerful attack from Glenbard East's best outside hitter Joey Farrell, which allowed the Mustangs an opportunity to attack. Martin Krasuski turned Wieland's dig into one of his 17 kills, giving Metea Valley a 24-20 lead.
"Those plays shift momentum," said Wieland, who credited film studies for knowing where Farrell liked to attack. "Plays like that get everyone pumped up."
Metea Valley coach John Aister said he had talked with Wieland before the match about making an impact.
"I told him before the first game that if he got a couple of those on Farrell it could turn the match, and it did," Aister said, "That play ignited him and the team."
The Mustangs, the 10th seed in the Proviso West sectional, were not satisfied with winning the first game because they had been in this position twice before this season against Glenbard East, the seventh seed. The two met twice in the Downers Grove North Tournament, in pool play and then in the championship match, and in each instance the Rams won after losing the first game.
Metea Valley made sure that didn't happen this time around. The Mustangs (29-7) opened a 9-3 edge in the second game, and they never allowed Glenbard East (24-12) to come closer.
The Mustangs' consistent play never allowed the Rams to make any type of sustained run.
"We have made it a real focus to limit errors and today was one of our best efforts," said outside hitter Ryan Luckinbill, who had 6 kills and 6 digs.
Glenbard East coach Marci Maier said she felt Metea Valley played like it wanted to advance.
"They came with playoff intensity," Maier said. "They had control at the beginning and I don't know if we ever regained it. We had some nice plays, but we never really stopped their momentum and it was unfortunate."
The Mustangs advance to the school's first regional championship match where Metea Valley will meet District 204 foe and sectional's second seed Neuqua Valley at 6 tonight in Lombard. The Wildcats easily dispatched Riverside-Brookfield 25-15, 25-17 in Tuesday's first semifinal match. Neuqua Valley (30-5) defeated Metea Valley in their only meeting this season.