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Article updated: 6/2/2013 12:06 AM

Downers Grove South a surprise champion

Members of the Downers Grove South boys volleyball team lift their first-place trophy following their win over Lincoln Way North in the state championship at Hoffman Estates High School Saturday.

Members of the Downers Grove South boys volleyball team lift their first-place trophy following their win over Lincoln Way North in the state championship at Hoffman Estates High School Saturday.

 

JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

Mike Schmitt of Downers Grove South, middle, celebrates a point with teammates during the state-championship game against Lincoln Way North at Hoffman Estates High School Saturday.

Mike Schmitt of Downers Grove South, middle, celebrates a point with teammates during the state-championship game against Lincoln Way North at Hoffman Estates High School Saturday.

 

JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

Steve Kryk of Downers Grove South get the ball over the net during the state-championship game against Lincoln Way North at Hoffman Estates High School Saturday.

Steve Kryk of Downers Grove South get the ball over the net during the state-championship game against Lincoln Way North at Hoffman Estates High School Saturday.

 

JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

John Hanek of Downers Grove South leaps for a kill during the state-championship game against Lincoln Way North at Hoffman Estates High School Saturday.

John Hanek of Downers Grove South leaps for a kill during the state-championship game against Lincoln Way North at Hoffman Estates High School Saturday.

 

JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

Downers Grove South celebrates its state-championship win Lincoln Way North at Hoffman Estates High School Saturday.

Downers Grove South celebrates its state-championship win Lincoln Way North at Hoffman Estates High School Saturday.

 

JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

Mike Schmitt of Downers Grove South gets a kill during the state-championship game against Lincoln Way North at Hoffman Estates High School Saturday.

Mike Schmitt of Downers Grove South gets a kill during the state-championship game against Lincoln Way North at Hoffman Estates High School Saturday.

 

JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

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Lincoln-Way North attempted to make school history.

But the Downers Grove South boys volleyball team never gave the Phoenix a chance Saturday evening at Hoffman Estates High School.

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The fifth-year school earned its first berth in a state championship in any sport with its semifinal victory over Glenbrook South earlier in the day.

But Downers South, making its 10 regular-season defeats look awfully deceptive, lead from virtually the start in its 25-18, 25-20 victory.

The Mustangs' volleyball team earned the first state title for the school since its boys soccer squad in 2004.

Downers South reached the state championship match with a straight-games win over St. Charles North in the morning semifinal.

"Our coaches always preach defense," said Downers South senior Nick Timreck, who had a team-high 11 kills. "Setting our block was a huge factor (in the victory). It was just a huge team effort."

Mike Schmitt, who added 10 kills for the Mustangs, broke the last tie of the opening game to give Downers South an 11-10 lead.

Downers South (30-10) went onto an 8-3 run during the stretch as sophomore Will Tischler had one of his 7 kills to up the lead to 18-13.

But it was all about defense for the Mustangs, who routinely denied the Lincoln-Way North front row.

Downers South ultimately finished with 35 digs, 9 more than its opponent, as Lincoln-Way North (37-4) never came closer than 4 points in the later stages of the first set.

The second game also featured multiple early ties, but Downers South once again exerted its considerable will as the teams approached double figures.

Timreck had back-to-back points to give the Mustangs a 17-13 lead, and the senior later added an ace to give Downers South a 20-15 cushion.

Schmitt had consecutive kills to bring Downers South to match point, and the volleyball season came to a close when Lincoln-Way North had a service error after a sideout.

David DeMarco keyed the Mustangs' superlative defense with a match-high 14 digs, while setter Jordan Pawlicki had 29 of the Mustangs' 31 assists.

"Everybody just connected out there," Tischler said. "We were playing as one. Everybody was in key, in tune."

Jake Walenga played admirably in defeat for Lincoln-Way North; the junior led both teams with 13 kills, but Ken Christensen was his only teammate with more than 2 kills.

"They were lights out," Phoenix coach Matthew Lawrence said of Downers South. "They proved to be the No. 1 team. They took care of business."

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