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updated: 5/14/2014 9:20 PM

Step right up for Lake Zurich's winning show

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By Bill Pemstein
Daily Herald Correspondent

Get your tickets quickly, for they will soon be gone.

The event in question is next Wednesday at Vernon Hills High School. It's the North Suburban Conference's lone unbeaten boys volleyball squad from Lake Zurich meeting the once-beaten Cougars.

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In a warm-up for that key match, Lake Zurich met an improving Mundelein squad on Wednesday night.

The Bears (22-10, 9-0) raced to big leads in both sets and put away the Mustangs 25-19, 25-14.

Now, what has happened at Lake Zurich?

Struggling to stay with the league's top teams most years, the Bears are standing tall this season and are seeded second in the Highland Park sectional.

"We have a lot of kids from back when we were sophomores,'' said Lake Zurich hitter Brent Sweetwood. "It feels like we know where we will be on the court. We kind of had high expectations coming into the season."

This season is going so well for the Bears that coach Lesly Ravenscraft could reach down to her JV team and pick up a player to help her squad. He's 6-foot-4 sophomore Nate Amos.

"I started on JV to get more playing time,'' Amos said. "I really didn't think I would start. Now, I'm the big boy in front."

Even Mundelein coach George Dressen is impressed with the new power in the NSC.

"It looks like they are having a lot of fun out there,'' Dressen said. "And they give up absolutely nothing. I'm really happy for them. They have been building their program for a few years so they should be happy with it."

The Bears' lead in set one was 7-1. The Mustangs (12-16, 4-5) didn't score their first points on offense until senior Scott Heffernan registered a serving ace. And by this time, the Lake Zurich lead was 17-10.

"Nobody had a shining stretch,'' Dressen said. "Nothing was sustained."

It was hard for the visitors to get much going. Sweetwood (9 kills, 3 blocks) was hard to handle.

"He's really gotten really good,'' Ravenscraft said of Sweetwood.

Set two began just like set one. And it wasn't because the Mustangs weren't trying. Down early, Mundelein libero David Everding dove toward his bench for a loose ball and manage to knock a few chairs around, but no one was injured. Everding paced his team's defense with 9 digs.

"He showed great effort,'' Dressen noted.

Set two also marked the short domination of the match by Amos (4 kills). He notched 3 of his kills right in a row and even used his left hand to put the ball down.

"Nate is swinging with a lot more aggression,'' Ravenscraft said. "He's building his confidence."

Amos added that his mother was a very competitive volleyball player in her college days.

"I got into this sport at an early age,'' he said.

On another Sweetwood kill, the Bears' lead in set two was 17-10. With senior Adrian Wojcik serving in set two, the Bears opened up a double-digit lead at 23-13. Sophomore Nick Meyer (6 kills) checked in with a block kill.

Both of these teams are in the Carmel regional. That means on May 27, Lake Zurich and Mundelein will meet again.

"Hopefully, we will bring our A game,'' Dressen said. "We need to get our serves in and need to put the ball away."

Lake Zurich's Andrew Gilbertson, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, had 5 kills. Bears setter Pat Bush had 26 assists in the two sets. Matt Carmody had 3 kills and a block.

Mundelein's Roman Tkachuk had 3 kills to pace the Mustangs, and setter Heffernan had 9 assists.

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