The boys volleyball banner on the wall at South Elgin is blank: no conference or state series titles.
But the Storm took a big step toward filling it up, clinching at least a share of the Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division title by defeating Metea Valley, 25-18, 25-19 Tuesday in South Elgin.
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Nate Marotta, one of 8 seniors playing their final home game, led the Storm with 8 kills.
With a 2-game match win in sight, things started to unravel for the Storm. The visiting Mustangs had cut a 6-point deficit to 1 at 19-18 when South Elgin coach Adam Plach called timeout. The Storm responded with a 4-point run to get within 2 points of the match.
A kill by Metea's Tom Wieland gave the Mustangs a last chance, but a service error gave it right back to South Elgin, and Dan Gibadlo's kill provided the game-winner.
"I just told them to play volleyball," said Plach of the final timeout. "It's a simple sport and we make it more complicated sometimes. So it's just getting back to the basics of run our offense and get ourselves in position. When we get out of position, it's easy for them to key on who the hitter is going to be and when we're in position it's a lot more difficult. When we're in position, we can get a lot more kills."
Dan Gibadlo added 6 kills, and Owen Bott and Ian Saxton added 4 apiece for South Elgin (27-5, 4-1). Chris Gibadlo had 22 assists. Michael Vedrine had 8 digs, and Marotta added 5 for the Storm.
Joe Burka led the way for Metea with 3 kills.
The Mustangs controlled Game 2 early on, leading as late as 8-7 before a 5-point run gave South Elgin the lead for good. The Storm extended the advantage to 18-12 before the Mustangs rallied one final time.
Game 1 was back and forth almost the whole way. Neither team led by more than 2 until a 6-2 run by South Elgin made it 20-16. The Storm continued to build the lead until Marotta's hard kill provided an exclamation point.