With the postseason just around the corner, the Benet boys volleyball team seemed right on track until stumbling a bit on Wednesday.
So it was important for the Redwings to quickly put that 26-24, 26-24 loss to St. Viator in the rearview mirror and that's exactly what they did with Thursday's 25-23, 25-19 defeat of an Addison Trail squad that came to Lisle sporting a 24-3 record this spring.
In an opener that saw neither team lead by more than four points at any time and the game tied at 19, 22 and 23, the Redwings (22-10) prevailed by claiming the final two points. The game ended when Mark Schuessler dug up a kill attempt by the Blazers' Alex Dickmann and then later dropped the winning point into an opening on the other side of the net.
Benet picked up its communication and defense from the previous night, while the Blazers' defense, which has carried the team for much of 2014, was a little off on Thursday.
"Right now we're definitely playing a lot better," said Redwings co-captain Scott Kleiser, who had 9 kills and 3 blocks against the Blazers. "Toward the end of the season is the time that you have to be playing your best volleyball and that's where we are right now. It's good to be playing like this coming into the playoffs."
Addison Trail, meanwhile, got another big night from big hitter Dickmann, who had a match-high 12 kills, but overall the team just was not at its best. In fact assistant coach Chad Grant was pleasantly surprised when he thought his team might claim Game 1 even while not playing its best volleyball.
"I was very happy there for a couple minutes because I thought we might steal that first game even though we didn't play well," Grant said. "But then we let it slip away at the end, and I think it carried over a little (into Game 2). I was not happy with our defense. I do not have an explanation for it. Our defense just wasn't there tonight."
Benet was solid on defense as libero Logan Ladowski and Schuessler each had 6 digs, and the team's front row also picked up its blocking, especially in Game 2.
"We didn't show a lot of emotion yesterday, but today we had more passion and we talked more," Redwings defensive specialist Josh Martinez said.
"We knew defense would give us energy. If we do that and have our passing and our hitting, we'll do well."
The Blazers trailed just 14-13 in the second game as Dickmann picked up 4 kills and a block to that point of the game, but the hosts closed out the game and the match on an 11-6 run capped off by a kill from Ben Mazza on match point.
"We've been kind of up and down this year, but I feel like despite last night's loss we have been very consistent for about two weeks now," Redwings coach Amy Van Eekeren said. "Last night was kind of a blip in the road, but we have to learn from it, move forward and play well."