Fenton can't finish vs. Morton
Senior Ethan Guerra and his Fenton boys volleyball teammates realize that their great start could possibly be an undefeated one if only for better finishes.
Monday was yet another agonizing example. The Bison battled admirably but lost to visiting Morton 25-23, 25-23 in a nonconference match in Bensenville.
"Very (rough)," Guerra said. "Last year we'd compete, but we could never close. This year we have to work on closing games and finishing strong and keep swinging aggressively towards the end, don't take the foot off the pedal."
Senior Javier Sanchez had 5 kills, 4 aces and 5 digs for the Bison (4-3). Junior Andrew Hill had 2 kills and 4 assists, junior Alfred Bajo had 2 blocks and 4 digs, Guerra had 2 kills and Bajo and Sanchez had 5 service points apiece.
Fenton rallied from a 22-18 deficit in the second game, closing to 24-23 on Morton (1-2) following an attack error before senior middle hitter Andy Martinez's kill for match point off serve receive.
A Loras recruit, Martinez finished with 8 kills and just 1 error. He also had the kill for game point in the first set after Fenton rallied from 24-20 to 24-23.
"With 25-23, that's as close as you can get without winning. It's been tough, but we stayed in there the whole game," Fenton coach Heather Petersen said.
"Morton's a good team, so it's nice to be competing at the level we want to compete. We just need to start finishing the games. They've just got to continue to have confidence and know that if they're with (opponents) in the beginning of the game, there's no reason they can't finish it."
These were already the third and fourth 2-point games lost by Fenton this season.
The Bison dropped a 25-23 third game at home against Maine East on Thursday. At Saturday's Oswego Invitational, they lost the pool title match to the host Panthers 27-25, 25-14.
When Fenton bounced back to beat Boylan 25-23, 19-25, 15-11 for third place overall, it was their highest invitational finish in at least a decade.
"I think we're a lot better (this season). We're a lot more focused," Sanchez said.
"Our record's showing it already. We're putting up games with everybody, no matter who it is. To begin last year, I remember we didn't have four wins. We just have to stay focused and keep working hard."
The Bison's high expectations may include capturing their first regional title. They only graduated one key contributor, and Sanchez, Hill and senior David Gutierrez are third-year varsity players.
"They do have the team chemistry, which is what we've been lacking in the years past. We've been trying to use that and allow the kids to grow together," Petersen said.
Morton coach Tony Hornilla acknowledged Fenton's improvement. The Mustangs, who only graduated two key players from last year's regional finalist, opened their season with losses to Oak Park and Riverside-Brookfield.
"We should have picked up from where we left off. but it's been kind of more of a work in progress," Hornilla said.
"At least we came out and beat this team. Obviously, they're much stronger than they have been in the past. I think they're actually much more solid. We just have to work harder. Our guys came in (this season) thinking they're all experienced and they're going to roll over people and the next thing you know we're 0-2."
A large, vocal crowd saw several long rallies. The biggest may have been with the Bison trailing 19-18 in the second game. They nearly tied the game, but instead Morton junior setter Chilo Rodriguez got the kill.
"Our fans are really supportive. Last year we didn't have much but this year since we're playing good, people are spreading the word," Guerra said.