Boys volleyball: Fenton rallies fall just short

Fenton's boys volleyball match Wednesday against Illiana Christian paralleled the program's progress this season.

A slow start, followed by exciting signs of improvement but ultimately the Bison fell just short of where they want to be.

Fenton (6-17) lost the match 26-24, 26-24 in Bensenville despite thrilling rallies in each game.

The Bison fell behind 7-2 and 18-11 in the first game before starting their comeback. A couple of Javier Sanchez aces and a couple of Vikings violations helped Fenton take a 20-19 lead. They had game point at 24-22 but couldn't put the game away. The Vikings scored the final four points to win.

"We felt the camaraderie was there today, the energy level was there, which is something that we've been battling the last couple of weeks," said Bison coach Heather Petersen, a 2003 Fenton graduate. "We were impressed with their play. We just want to win. We want the 'W.'"

The second game was similar. The Bison fell behind 6-0, caught up at 9-9, fell behind at 24-19 again before tying the game at 24. Illiana Christian scored the next two points to clinch the match.

"We've been trying to pull it out of the boys all season," Petersen said. "We've seen glimpses of it, but today was a lot more consistent. They never really panicked. They were ready for anything."

"We never really usually do that, especially a team that we lost to in three games at their house (earlier in the season)," added Sanchez, a junior who's already a two-time team captain on a squad with no senior starters. "It was good."

Sanchez finished with 3 aces and 4 kills. Freddie Bajo added an ace and 2 blocks, Andrew Hill had 12 assists, Jeff Puebla notched 4 kills and Ethan Guerra had 4 kills and 2 blocks. The Bison played without injured David Gutierrez.

Despite the defeat the Bison are enjoying the season, primarily because they're seeing improvement, slow but steady.

"That's for sure," Sanchez said. "Compared to last year it's a big difference. We're actually close. We're not getting crushed every game."

And they can't wait to see what progress the future brings.

"I'm really excited to see what the end of this season brings and going forward into next year when they have three years of varsity," Petersen said. "They keep getting smarter, they keep wanting to learn from each other.

"They want to play good opponents, because they know that's how they're going to get better. They're not going to get better from playing the teams they're supposed to beat. We like being the underdog and kind of showing them what we've got and giving them a run for their money."

Follow Orrin on Twitter @Orrin_Schwarz

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