Boys volleyball: Naperville Central working on its consistency
Naperville Central junior Carter Stenmark knows that consistency is one of the hallmarks of a great team.
He hasn't seen enough of it yet this season.
Stenmark, the Redhawks' only returning full-time starter, is one of eight juniors on a squad that has been up and down, both match to match and even set to set.
"Our consistency is not there," Stenmark said. "That's what we lack right now.
"What I love about us is our effort that we put in. I think that by the end of the year, if we can fix our errors and be more consistent, we will be a really good team."
The Redhawks (6-5) showed signs of it Saturday at Wheaton Warrenville South's Tiger Classic. They knocked off the host school and Lake Park to reach the Silver Bracket title game before losing to Sandburg 25-18, 25-20.
Stenmark spiked 8 kills against Sandburg, but it wasn't nearly enough. The Eagles (9-3) got the sweep behind the deft play of senior setter Cameron Petrusevski, a 6-foot-6 lefty who handed out 19 assists to go with 2 kills.
"We have a great setter," Sandburg coach David Vales said. "Once you get him in a 1-on-1, we've got some pretty good hitters. We were running one pin to the other and when you spread it out that far, it's tough to block."
The Redhawks had a tough time doing anything consistently well. They made 6 service errors, did not have any aces and their passing was problematic.
"It was a tough matchup this game," Stenmark said. "I feel like we didn't execute.
"We made a lot of errors. Basically, a lot of their points were our errors."
Indeed, Sandburg used a 6-0 run on Kelly Hunter's serve to take a 12-5 lead in the opening game, with 5 of the points coming on consecutive Naperville Central errors.
The Redhawks twice cut the deficit to 3 and trailed 18-14 when the Eagles ran off 4 straight points with Hunter on the serve.
"We're still looking for leaders to step up out there and kind of just calm us down in situations because we tend to panic," Naperville Central coach Roger Strausberger said. "As soon as we fight back, we'll let our guard down and all of a sudden -- boom, boom, boom -- we're down by 3 again."
That proved to be the case in Game 2. The Redhawks pulled within 20-19, only to see the Eagles score on a kill, a Naperville Central hitting error and a block to regain control.
Nate Rutter had 5 kills and John McCormack and Finn Wolfe each added 3 for the Redhawks, who are encouraged by finishing 10th in the 24-team tournament.
"We fought hard so I'm very proud of our team," Stenmark said. "I feel like we as a unit just need to get involved and we need some leaders to step up, myself being one of them, and be more vocal and connect more."