Boys volleyball: Lakes, Stevenson earn wins at Warren tourney
It's appropriate that Friday's boys volleyball match between Lakes and Palatine ended with a block.
Blocking seems to be Lakes' thing this year. The tall Eagles are disruptive at the net and often send the ball right back to the other side before it even has a chance to cross over.
"We have a tall team and we've improved on our blocking skills and we are ready to shut teams down," Lakes senior hitter Ethan Metzelaar said. "It's huge to know that you're stopping a ball that the other team is swinging for as hard as they can and you're putting it right back on their side."
Metzelaar was in on several big blocks against Palatine and celebrated as teammates Ryan Buchanan and Connor Clowers put up a double block that wrapped up a decisive 25-20, 25-14 win over previously undefeated Palatine in pool play of the Warren Blue Devil Invitational in Gurnee.
Metzelaar topped Lakes, which moved to 5-4, with 7 kills, along with 4 blocks. The Eagles had a total of 10 blocks over the two games.
"Ethan played middle for us last year and he figured out over the off-season that he's really more of a right-side hitter and we moved him there and he really seems to be doing well," Lakes coach Kevin Glabowicz said of Metzelaar. "His energy was great and our energy was great. We played tough."
Lakes took control of the first game thanks to some late errors by Palatine, and finished off the game on (what else?) a block by Ryan Cholewinski.
Lakes closed out the second game with four unanswered points, three of which were served by Cholewinski.
"I think we're going to have a great season," Metzelaar said. "We have some young guys, but the skill level is high."
Palatine (9-1) was led by senior hitter Curtis McLennan, who rolled up 11 kills.
"They put up a nice big block and they have some nice athletes," Palatine coach Pete Gavin said of Lakes. "But even before the block, they did a really good job of getting us out of system with their serves and that had been one of our strengths this season, something we prided ourselves on."
Stevenson d. Maine South: With 10 aces, Stevenson aced its first test in pool play of the Warren Blue Devil Invitational on Friday by sweeping Maine South, 25-14, 25-18.
"A philosophy we have this year for serving is that we are trying to not only hit it as hard as we can, but to also serve a good serve," Stevenson junior hitter Gavin Meng said. "As the game goes on, we get into a groove and that helps us close out the game. We have a lot of good servers this year."
The Patriots also have a lot of good players, period. Meng, who topped Stevenson with 6 kills and is already getting attention from college recruiters, plays alongside two players who will be playing Division I volleyball next year.
Middle hitter Justin Ross, who stands 6-foot-8, will be playing at perennial power Loyola while setter Will Sorenson will be playing at Harvard.
"We are getting more steady and we are trusting in the process and I think we are understanding that we can really play," said Stevenson coach Eric Goolish, whose team improved to 7-1 on the season.
Jack Bolz and Valentyn Khoma led Maine South with 3 kills apiece.