Boys volleyball: Hersey outlasts Stevenson in a marathon

With the entire match going back-and-forth the whole way, visiting Stevenson had plenty of opportunities to beat Hersey in nonconference boys volleyball action Monday night.

But when all was said and done, it was the host Huskies that walked away with an exciting 22-25, 26-24, 26-24 victory as Hersey's never-say-die attitude paid off until the very final point.

The Patriots (14-5) pulled out the first game as they broke a 22-22 tie by scoring the final 3 points on a kill by junior Thomas Finn (7 kills) and 2 service points by Samuel Epstein (12 digs).

The second game also went down to the wire, but Hersey (9-3) was in trouble when 4 straight aces by junior Gavin Meng (10 kills, 7 aces) gave Stevenson a 20-17 lead.

But on Meng's next service attempt, the ball hit the ceiling when he tossed it up in the air which resulted in the Huskies getting the side out trailing 20-18.

There were a lot of heroes for Hersey throughout the contest, but some great blocking at the end of Game 2 was a huge key.

Up 25-24, a block by Alec Naumowicz (4 blocks) sealed the narrow 26-24 victory to set the stage for the decisive third game.

"We were down almost the whole way in each game and it was great to see us come back," said Hersey coach Laura Gerber, whose team also fell behind 10-4 in the third game after some more outstanding serving by Meng.

"Stevenson is a really good team, and finally we were able to get a couple of really big blocks in the end and run our offense."

Trailing 10-4, the Huskies gradually clawed their way back into the final game as a missed dink shot by Stevenson deadlocked the score at 19-19.

A spike by Finn gave the Patriots a brief 22-20 lead, but a huge tap shot by Hersey's Jakub Migus (18 assists, 4 kills) tied the score at 22-22.

Stevenson's Justin Ross got a kill for a 23-22 edge only to see Hersey's Carter Zagorski (6 kills) get a kill to force a 23-23 tie.

Hersey went up 24-23 on a block by senior Brent Gurvis (7 kills, 4 blocks), but a kill by Meng on match point kept the Pats' hopes alive.

But fate would be on the Huskies' side on this night as back-to-back kills by Tim Nugent put the Patriots away to secure the 26-24 triumph and the match for Hersey.

"It was really good that we picked our team up every time we got down and we battled back strong," said Gurvis. "Our back row just played really well, and our setter (Migus) played a really great game."

Jacob Tolwinski led Hersey with 14 digs while teammate Luke Larson had 9 digs and 3 assists. Nick Clarizio added 4 kills for the Huskies while Meng and teammate Daniel Prindiville had 5 assists each for Stevenson.

"We had so many errors at the wrong time, and we had a lot of chances to close them out, but we didn't take advantage of them," said Stevenson coach Eric Goolish, whose team faces Lake Zurich on Wednesday. "But we'll learn from them and make better decisions at certain times in the match."

  Stevenson's Thomas Finn (8) knocks the ball past Hersey's Drew Zagorski (6) during Monday's boys volleyball match in Arlington Heights. Paul Valade/
  Hersey's Brent Gurvis (9) finds a hole past Stevenson's Justin Ross (14) during Monday's boys volleyball match in Arlington Heights. Paul Valade/
  Hersey's Jacob Tolwinski makes a diving attempt at a dig on a Stevenson hit during Monday's boys volleyball match in Arlington Heights. Paul Valade/
  Stevenson's Thomas Finn (8) celebrates a point with teammates during Monday's boys volleyball match against Hersey in Arlington Heights. Paul Valade/
  Hersey's Carter Zagorski (7) goes up against Stevenson's Gavin Meng (3) and Justin Ross (14) during Monday's boys volleyball match in Arlington Heights. Paul Valade/
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