With the postseason just a few days away, neither the Naperville Central boys volleyball team or Naperville North squad could ask for a better regular-season finale.
The Redhawks (31-4, 12-2 DuPage Valley Conference) won Thursday 21-25, 25-17 and 25-18 in front of a large senior night crowd at Naperville North. The pace was quick, the hitting hard and at the end both teams felt the match gave them momentum going into regional play early next week.
"We've had a couple of rough matches," said Redhawks junior Jack Burton, who finished with a game-high 17 kills. "We were close to Glenbard North and lost to Wheaton North. We came in with the mindset that we knew were going to have to battle North with it being their senior night and with the rivalry. We put everything into getting to the playoffs on a good note."
Naperville Central is the No. 1 seed at the Hinsdale Central sectional. The Redhawks open postseason play at 5 p.m. Tuesday in a Neuqua Valley regional semifinal between the winner of Monday's quarterfinal match between 15th-seeded Neuqua and 17th-seeded West Aurora.
The Redhawks took the lead for good midway through Game 3 and never gave it back. With Kevin Prazak serving, a Burton kill and two Naperville North hitting errors put Naperville Central up 11-9.
Later, another hitting error by the Huskies put the Redhawks up 22-15 and North never got closer than 5 points the rest of the way.
A kill by Jon Chiczewski put Naperville Central up 14-12 in Game 2, and soon after the Redhawks went on a 5-1 run that included 2 kills and a block by Michael Timmerberg. Later, another kill by Timmerberg put his team up 23-15 and the Redhawks didn't look back.
The opening game began with Chiczewski serving two consecutive aces for Naperville Central. There would be a total of 5 in the match. Chiczewski finished with 3, Timmerberg had 1 and Naperville North's Jake Hafen and Kevin Romy each had 1.
Naperville Central led most of the game until a kill from Kent Lang and a double hit called on the Redhawks put Naperville North up 20-18. The Huskies (15-20, 4-10) kept up 1-to-3-point advantage until a Naperville Central hitting error and a block from Frank Dore secured the win for Naperville North.
Hafen led Naperville North with 9 kills. Figge was right behind with 8.
"The seniors wanted this one so bad. I thought we played well against the No. 1 seed of our sectional," said Naperville North coach Nate Bornancin. "I liked our control in Game 1. In Games 2 and 3 we couldn't hold our serving.
"I'm impressed with our effort and I think this will give us confidence going into the match against Proviso West," he said.
The Huskies are seeded 13th in the Hinsdale Central sectional. They open Hinsdale South regional play Monday with a noon quarterfinal game against 20th-seed Proviso West. The winner plays fourth-seeded Lyons on Tuesday in the semifinal round.