Boys volleyball: Stevenson downs Antioch to claim Lake County crown

Stevenson won the Lake County boys volleyball invitational Saturday, and made history in the process.

They also took the crown last year, and according to coach Eric Goolish, it's the second time in school history the Patriots have won consecutive Lake County championships - the last time being the three-peat years of 1998, 1999, and 2000.

"This is huge," said Goolish, who added that his squad, which improved to 14-5, has persevered despite graduating 6 starters from last season's team.

"Our coaching staff is so proud that these guys (his current players) found a way to be competitive again this year."

The Pats won all five matches in the invite hosted by Grant, and they defeated runner-up Antioch 25-21, 25-22 in the title match.

"This is the first time we've ever played in the championship game in the Lake County invite," said Sequoits coach Jamie Atkinson, "so I'm pretty proud of my boys."

"They battled today In both games (against the Patriots)," added Atkinson. "Stevenson is a great team, but I thought my guys put Antioch's name on some lips this weekend. They let everyone know we're around."

The Sequoits, who were 4-1 in the tournament, were led against the Pats by Charlie Robison, who had 5 blocks, and Nathan Young (6 digs).

Lakes won the third place match with a 2-set victory over Lake Zurich.

"These guys played hard today, and played smart," said Lakes coach Greg Bruns.

The Eagles were paced against the Bears by opposite David Synovic (5 digs, 9 kills), Erik Stover and Kaden Martin (5 kills apiece), Jack Marino (3 kills) and Will Haak (21 assists).

"Our pins were strong today," added Bruns, "our setter (Haak) made some smart decisions and our middles really came in to their own. Our middle play has been key lately."

Carmel took fifth place by defeating Grayslake Central, while Grayslake North won the seventh place match over Waukegan.

Antioch beat Lakes in the semis while Stevenson survived a tough 3-set match against their semifinal tilt against Lake Zurich.

The Pats were tied at 12-all against the Bears in game 3, but rode the late play of Yugank Arora (2 big kills and a block down the stretch) to punch their ticket to the title game.

"We found a lot of motivation to keep on fighting," said Arora after the semis were in the books. "We had a lot of power in the third set."

In the opening set of the championship match in Fox Lake, Stevenson trailed 20-19 after a kill from Antioch's Matthew Schultz.

But the Pats roared back to score 6 of the next 7 points to win the first game.

Defense let the way for the Pats in set two. They stormed out to an 8-2 advantage with senior Ramsey Engel getting several key digs, and also a couple of blocks at the net.

Antioch rallied and got within 22-20 after another kill from Schultz. The Pats called timeout, after which the Sequoits crept within 22-21.

But Stevenson responded and a clutch late block from Ramsey helped hand the title to the Pats.

"For us to find a way to build a completely different team this year and find success, and just be in this position, is awesome," said Goolish.

Setter Logan Kim had 17 assists for Stevenson in the game against Lake Zurich and added 7 more in the finals match. Senior outside hitter Sam Nuudel led the way on attack for the Pats with 13 kills against the Bears and 8 versus Antioch.

"This just shows that our team, despite losing a lot of starters from last year, is still good," said Nuudel.

"We just had to play smart (against Antioch), keep the ball in play, and do what we do best."

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