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updated: 3/25/2014 10:45 PM

Slow start doesn't stop Metea Valley

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By Stan Goff
Daily Herald Correspondent

After a poor pass led to a Metea Valley hitting error midway through the match opener, visiting Hinsdale Central looked prime for a win in its season opener.

The off-target pass by Metea Valley left the Red Devils on top 12-4 in Game 1 Tuesday, and the hosts Mustangs looked a little off.

But volleyball is a game of momentum shifts. The Mustangs appeared to flip on a switch and just like that, the passes were on, the serves were well-placed and before long, they had closed the game with an 18-8 charge that led the way to a 25-23, 25-20 nonconference win.

"We started off a little bit slow, but then we came back. We had a great catchup and then we kept going," said Mustangs senior outside hitter Ryan Luckinbill, who finished with 9 kills. "We established our passing and that allowed us to establish our middle. From the middle we opened up all the other hitters."

Hinsdale Central, looking to start the season strong after going 9-24 last spring, jumped ahead 6-2 following a kill by Erik Maday, then led by as many as 8 before Metea Valley picked up its play.

"I thought it was a pretty good opener, to be honest," Red Devils coach Mike Konrad said. "It's a new team and we were in sync early on, which is going to give us confidence."

But the Red Devils were hurt late in the opener and again in the second game by some nasty Mustangs serves, many of which came from the jump-serving Luckinbill, who had 4 aces and a number of other offerings that kept Hinsdale Central at bay.

"He was in a real nice rhythm back there on the service line. He scored a bunch of points for us," Metea Valley coach John Aister said of Luckinbill. "Even when it wasn't an ace he was taking them out of system. He became an offensive threat back there for us."

The Mustangs' passing was just as important as the strong serving, as junior setter Andrew Miller started to click midway through the opener and his passing allowed a number of players to get involved. Middle hitter Enrique Lopez led the Mustangs with 10 kills, but Luckinbill and Bryce Smith were dangerous on the outside and 6-foot-5 sophomore Alec McKinney added 3 kills from the middle slot.

"Once we established our passing we were able to open everything up," Luckinbill said. "We were able to limit our errors and we got our momentum going. It started off with a roll from the middle and then we opened up the outside and opened up everything."

Metea Valley closed Game 1 with a kill by Luckinbill that followed a pair of digs from Noah Marzuki. The hosts then jumped out to a 12-3 lead in Game 2 on their way to completing the sweep.

Jake Regnery paced the Red Devils with 6 kills and Will Thompson added 5.

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