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updated: 5/1/2014 11:57 PM

Schnittker, Buffalo Grove tighten up MSL East race

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By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent

It might not have a pretty name, but it can be one of the most momentum-changing plays in volleyball.

Thursday night, Buffalo Grove sophomore Zach Schnittker used the dump shot -- a surprise move by a setter to push the ball across the net when the opponent is expecting the ball to be set -- with shocking effectiveness not once but twice down the stretch against visiting Hersey.

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A combination of superb BG hitting and Huskies errors at the end of set two helped the Bison hand visiting Hersey their first Mid-Suburban East loss of the season in a 25-23, 28-26 BG win.

"I just felt like I had to mix up the offense," said Schnittker of the late-match heroics.

BG coach Matt Aiello said that Schnittker taking matters into his own hands was no surprise.

"Zach is an aggressive setter," said Aiello, "and he's extremely talented. He's just coming into his own and starting to realize just how talented he can be."

Schnittker had 21 assists, 3 kills and a block, while senior captain Mike Fuerst led Hersey with 7 kills.

"Our passing and setting were off tonight," said Huskies coach Nancy Lill, "and bad passing and bad setting leads to ineffective hitting."

"You have to give a lot of credit to BG. They had a great game plan, but we made it easy on them with our poor play."

The first set was tightly contested, but the Bison prevailed at the end thanks to some strong hitting by Athan Cruz (6 kills) and a final point error by Hersey.

BG (16-9, 5-2) trailed by 5 points late in the second set, but fought back and tied the game at 21-21 on Schnittker's first dump kill.

After a few sideouts, the sophomore's second dump kill caught Hersey (13-3, 6-1) by surprise and fell to the floor untouched just over the net to tie the game again at 26, bringing the home crowd to it's feet.

Then two consecutive hitting errors by Hersey handed the match to BG -- to the disappointment of coach Lill.

"You just can't do that," said Lill of the errors that closed out the match, "but it is what it is. We just made the East more interesting, that's for sure. There's some nice teams in this league, so if we want to win (the East title) we've got to earn it."

Senior libero Fotis Christacos earned 11 digs for Hersey, while BG libero Tullio Ruscitti recorded 17 digs while teammates Zach Masciopinto (8 digs), Nikita Bulauski (4 kills, 2 blocks) and Kevin Shanahan (5 kills) also excelled for the home team.

"For us to be successful," said Aiello, "we've got to maintain a high level of intensity. We're an extremely talented team, but emotions control us.

"We've got to learn to play with intensity regardless of the situation, and go out there and have fun."

Prospect d. Wheeling: The Knights grabbed a share of the MSL lead as the result of a 25-10, 25-17 victory over Wheeling.

Grant Andler led Prospect's attack with 7 kills, Jacob Schwister generated 16 assists and Eryk Krzyzak had 12 digs for the Knights (14-10, 6-1).

Alex Kais had 4 kills for the Wildcats (4-19, 0-7) and Nick Stephani provided 12 digs.

Schaumburg d. Hoffman Estates: Romario Rios (17 kills) and Cameron Nolan (12) led the way as the Saxons earned a 27-25, 28-30, 25-12 triumph in MSL West play.

Other standouts for Schaumburg (18-8, 5-2) included Bozhidar Kolev (4 blocks), Jacob Dietrich (12 digs) and Nick Nash (36 assists).

Top contributors for the Hawks were Gregg Lugo (13 kills), Jesse Orozco (18 digs) and Hardik Patel (16 assists).

Elk Grove d. Rolling Meadows: Kevin Wickstrom and Geoffrey Dybicz had 6 kills to lead the attack while Ray Kraus had 21 assists, 2 blocks and 12 digs pace the Grens in a 25-18, 25-23 decision.

Karl Freidenfelds had 9 digs and Sam Ostling served 3 aces for Elk Grove (13-12, 3-4 MSL East).

Tommy Murphy and Enrique Avellaneda both finished with 5 kills for Rolling Meadows (4-10, 1-6), and Jose Cruz had a team-best 8 digs.

Palatine d. Conant:

Palatine prevailed 25-25, 25-18 in the MSL West matchup.

Ryan Campbell produced a team-best 6 kills for the Pirates, while Kyle Obernesser produced 6 digs and Jake Boldog had 17 assists.

Top producers for Conant were Jae Pyun (5 kills, 6 digs), Nikola Todorov (3 blocks, 4 digs).

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