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updated: 5/21/2014 10:00 PM

Heinz, Vernon Hills a hit against Lake Zurich

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  • Vernon Hills' Adam Weinberg is lifted on the shoulders of his teammates after they defeated Lake Zurich in two sets Wednesday at Vernon Hills.

       Vernon Hills' Adam Weinberg is lifted on the shoulders of his teammates after they defeated Lake Zurich in two sets Wednesday at Vernon Hills.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Vernon Hills' Lem Turner, middle, meets Lake Zurich's Matt Carmody, left, and Nate Amos at the net Wednesday at Vernon Hills.

       Vernon Hills' Lem Turner, middle, meets Lake Zurich's Matt Carmody, left, and Nate Amos at the net Wednesday at Vernon Hills.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Vernon Hills' Ryan Opitz, right, and Lake Zurich's Nick Meyer meet at the net Wednesday at Vernon Hills.

       Vernon Hills' Ryan Opitz, right, and Lake Zurich's Nick Meyer meet at the net Wednesday at Vernon Hills.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Lake Zurich's Pat Bush, left, and Brent Sweetwood go up for a block Wednesday at Vernon Hills.

       Lake Zurich's Pat Bush, left, and Brent Sweetwood go up for a block Wednesday at Vernon Hills.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Vernon Hills' Ryan Opitz celebrates after a point during the Cougars' win over Lake Zurich on Wednesday at Vernon Hills.

       Vernon Hills' Ryan Opitz celebrates after a point during the Cougars' win over Lake Zurich on Wednesday at Vernon Hills.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
By Bill Pemstein
Daily Herald Correspondent

On this night, Vernon Hills High School administrators could have invited a few college defensive players to show off their skills.

And frankly, even with those folks' considerable talents, they might not have been able to dig senior Michael Heinz's kills. His hits were simply too hard to handle.

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It was advertised as the two best teams in the conference met with a North Suburban Conference title at state. Visiting Lake Zurich was unbeaten in the conference and the Cougars had just one loss.

Lake Zurich battled toe to toe with Vernon Hills in the early going. And then Heinz, setter Ryan Opitz, blockers Lem Turner and Max Spiglanin and rising sophomore Jared Bennett took over the match.

Coach Chris Curry's club won its sixth league title in the past 7 years with an impressive 25-21, 25-12 victory.

"This was our last home game for us seniors,'' Heinz said. "Plus we wanted to send Lake Zurich a message."

Heinz finished with 10 kills in the two sets and none of them were hit softly.

"Heinz is a power hitter,'' Turner said. "And Bennett was amazing. He was an unknown coming in and had a great match."

Set two was still in contention when Bennett took over the serving for the Cougars (25-9, 10-1). When he was done, the match was in Vernon Hills' control at 18-9. Curry pointed out that Bennett has a solid jump serve -- but not all jump serves are the same.

"We have struggled to serve well all year long,'' Curry said. "Our offense worked tonight."

Bennett's 8 kills also helped his team.

"Jared had the match of his life,'' Heinz said.

Set one could not have been closer. There were five ties, the last one at 14-14. The Cougars finally pulled ahead led by kills from Bennett and Opitz.

"They played the best game I've seen from them this season,'' said Lake Zurich coach Lesly Ravenscraft. "And we had one block in two games. We have to block better because you won't be able to dig those balls."

The Bears (23-11) were led by 6 kills from promising sophomore Nate Amos. Setter Pat Bush notched 13 assists.

The odd thing is these two powers could meet again in a week's time. Despite being the top two seeds in the Highland Park sectional, both teams are in the Carmel regional.

Clearly, the Cougars struck the first blow with this dominant performance.

"I think we are peaking at the end of the season,'' Turner said. "And with regionals coming, we are going to give it our all."

Both Turner and Spiglanin had 4 kills each. Opitz had 25 assists from his setting post.

"We definitely got a little better,'' Curry said.

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