Boys volleyball: Hersey soars to championship at Palatine

Hersey is moving up. All the way up.

Hersey powered past Lake Zurich in the semifinals and then beat Joliet West in the finals to win the Palatine Invitational Saturday in Palatine.

“It was crazy,” Hersey coach Laura Gerber said. “Against Lake Zurich, probably the toughest team we have seen until we saw Joliet West. They (Joliet West) are big and fast and it took us some time to get used to their speed. But we did a really nice job adjusting.”

Hersey (15-3) advanced to the title game by rallying to beat Lake Zurich in three sets. The Huskies dropped the first set 25-22 before beating the Bears 25-23 in each of the final two sets.

The Huskies used that momentum to jump out to a 6-1 lead over Joliet West (20-3) in the title match. But the Tigers chipped away and then pulled ahead to lead 23-19. Hersey still trailed 24-23 but scored the final three points of the set for a 26-24 win.

In the second set, Hersey again found themselves trailing at 14-10. Again the Huskies put in a surge at the end to beat Joliet West 25-23 on a block by William Markworth to claim the title.

“We did some blocking schemes that we haven’t done all year,” Gerber said. “And it worked. This is where we are headed toward in the playoffs. We want to get better every week and play tougher teams so when we come across these teams in the future you know how to play and dig in.”

The Huskies got solid play up front from Justin Arrowood, Gregory Kubon and Markworth while Naveen Samuel had a solid day setting the ball.

“I love it,” Arrowood said. “I love playing against teams we don’t usually play. We came out here and left it all on the court. It was more than just good talent. You have to have the mindset of no matter what is happening, whether we are up or down, you have to keep your foot on the gas.”

Lake Zurich (15-5) bounced back to capture third place in the tournament with a strong performance in the third set. The Bears beat Maine West 26-24, 23-25, 25-12 to finish 4-1 in the tournament. That comes in the heels of a 5-0 performance last week.

“We are playing great, “ Lake Zurich coach Brett Stuart said. “Third-place matches can go either way because you spend so much energy on the previous match. It took us a little while, but we finished well.”

Gabe Schwartz led the Bears with 27 kills in the Bears’ two matches on Saturday. Keyon Haynes added 13 kills. Ethan Blakeslee chipped in 7 kills in the match with Hersey while Ashton stage had 9 kills against Maine West.

Maine West (12-9), which starts a freshman and three sophomores, had the highest finish ever in the tournament with their fourth place finish.

“It’s not the best finish that we wanted in the third set,” Maine West coach Michael O’Brill said. “We were trying to simulate regional championship volleyball. The fact that we are growing as a team is a lot to be proud of to get to play with these teams.”

Maine West, which lost the opening day match to Joliet West, 25-18, 25-18, was led on the day by Louis Alvarez-Perez with 12 kills, Alex Zudor with 21 assists and Ronak Patel, who had 27 digs.

Carmel picked up a hard-fought 21-25, 25-23, 34-32 victory over neighborhood rival Libertyville to win the silver flight. Carmel survived eight match points against the Wildcats to win the final set of the match.

Carmel (13-8) was led by Michael Schofield, who had 18 kills, including 9 in the final set. Hayden Chilcott had 14 kills and Isaac Alvarez added 12 kills.

Libertyville (6-7) was led by Caleb Johnson and Aarav Bamrolia who had 14 kills each.

Buffalo Grove won the bronze flight. The Bison defeated both Prospect and Glenbard North in three-set matches to win that title, David Hill led the Bison (10-8) with 35 kills with many of them coming off the setting of Micah Cho.

Waubonsie Valley (7-13) won the copper flight. The Warriors beat Round Lake 25-8, 25-16 and then defeated Glenbard South 25-23, 25-19.

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