Boys volleyball: Conant claims first MSL championship in 33 years with two-set win vs. Hersey

Conant made sure its long wait ended quickly.

The Cougars, who had not won a Mid-Suburban League title in 33 years, claimed one Thursday in just 43 minutes in Hoffman Estates.

Conant used dominant net play in their two-set sweep over Hersey, rolling 25-16, 25-14.

“The boys did a great job,” Conant coach Drewann Riebel said. “They came in focused. We have been working towards this all season. They were definitely focused today. They took care of business.”

Conant (31-2) has been on a roll since the Cougars lost to Barrington exactly a month ago. They have won 14 consecutive matches, including a win over Barrington to capture the MSL West.

“When we play clean and execute together, we are a really solid team,” Riebel said. “Everyone of them contributes and is doing well this year.”

Conant made it look easy in both sets thanks to solid starts in each set.

The Cougars opened 6-0 lead in the first set by going up the middle. Nicholas Gutka, who is 6-foot-8 and will play at Purdue-Fort Wayne, showed that he is a force with two solid kills during that stretch.

“The whole point of it was to get me going,” said Gutka, who had 4 kills in the first set and 8 for the match. “One of the primary goals of our team is to start off with a kill straight by me. It gets me going, the team going and the crowd going.”

Hersey (29-6), which was unbeaten in the MSL East, got as close as 16-12 behind Gregory Kubon and MSL East player of the year Justin Arrowood.

But with the Huskies focused on stopping the middle, Conant went to the outside. Michael Recko and Maciej Kopacz used that opportunity to strike as Conant outscored Hersey 9-4 down the stretch to pick up the first set win.

“We have been working really hard in practice to clean up our side of the court and force them to make errors,” Recko said. “Our chemistry has been super strong and that has let us win games with such ease.”

Conant put the second set away from the beginning. They scored the first five points on their way to a 13-4 lead and never allowed Hersey to challenge them.

“The last few weeks, we have all been focusing on winning the conference,” said Kopacz, who will play at Roosevelt next year. “We all got together and try hard in practices and bring energy to our game. We have real good blockers and good defense over here. I would like to say that we are scrappy.”

Kopacz had 7 kills while Recko had 4 kills. Joshua Yang and Bryce Grogan each had 2 kills while Alex Urbanczyk had 2 kills and 17 assists.

Hersey coach Laura Gerber said that her team just could never get untracked.

“They played a great game,” Gerber said. “We came out a little shaky and could never get going. Sometimes you just can’t get it together and that was tonight.”

The two teams could meet again at the Lake Park sectional semifinals. Conant is seeded second and Hersey third.

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