Senior Jared Wilcox said the Wheaton Warrenville South boys volleyball team has a friendly rivalry with Naperville North because many of the players on each team also play club volleyball together.
But it's certainly not a boring rivalry.
The Tigers (8-6, 2-1 DuPage Valley Conference) prevailed Tuesday in two games, 25-21 and 25-23, but it wasn't until late in the games that WW South could grab control from the Huskies (8-6, 2-1).
"It was the first home DVC match and I think we were nervous at the beginning of each game, but we were able to pull it together at the end," Wilcox, who finished with 15 kills, said.
This was not a match of consistent momentum for either team. Naperville North had a 4-point advantage early in Game 1 and a 5-point lead in Game 2. The rest of the time, it was a 1-3-point advantage for either squad until the outcome of each game was decided.
"When you are battling for every point, it comes down to defense because the teams are going to get their kills," Wilcox said.
Throughout the match, there were sustained minutes of strong passing by both squads, effective blocking and effective hitting just over the net. Then someone would slam a kill that no one had a chance to touch.
With the score tied at 21 in Game 1 and WW South's Ben Carpio serving, Wilcox hit a kill that made it 22-21. Naperville North called a timeout. The Huskies, however, committed two hitting errors to put the Tigers up 24-21 before Wilcox closed things out on another kill.
Zach Meyer also had a big night hitting for WW South with 11 kills.
"It came down to energy and execution at the end. That's crucial against a team like this," said Naperville North coach Nate Bornancin. "I would have liked to have had more energy against what we consider a rival. The intensity needs to be brought up. We have Lake Park on Thursday, and this effort won't be enough."
The Huskies had a 23-22 advantage in Game 2 when the Tigers' John Hildebrand took over serving. Wilcox had a kill, Carpio a block and then Naperville North had a hitting error to seal the set and match victories for WW South.
"I would like to get better starts, but we did a good job at the end," said Tigers coach Bill Schreier.
The Huskies won the DVC title last season, breaking WW South's league title streak at four, and that didn't diminish the rivalry. But Schreier said he's not focusing on that.
"It's the excitement of getting to see continued growth. We have cut down on our errors from the start of the season," he said.
Jake Hafen and Kevin Romy each had 5 kills to lead Naperville North.
Like Naperville North, WW South is also on the road Thursday. The Tigers take on Naperville Central. Both matches start at 6 p.m.