Boys volleyball: Lake Zurich learns to finish, beats Conant

  • Lake Zurich's Matt Conway smashes the ball toward Conant's George Tawfic and Robby Blackburn in a boys volleyball game in Hoffman Estates Monday, May 10, 2021.

      Lake Zurich's Matt Conway smashes the ball toward Conant's George Tawfic and Robby Blackburn in a boys volleyball game in Hoffman Estates Monday, May 10, 2021. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Lake Zurich's Ethan Pratt smashes the ball past Conant's Robby Blackburn and Pranav Joshi Monday in Hoffman Estates. Lake Zurich won in two games.

      Lake Zurich's Ethan Pratt smashes the ball past Conant's Robby Blackburn and Pranav Joshi Monday in Hoffman Estates. Lake Zurich won in two games. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Lake Zurich's Nikola Zizich celebrates a two-game win with teammates against Conant in a boys volleyball game in Hoffman Estates Monday, May 10, 2021.

      Lake Zurich's Nikola Zizich celebrates a two-game win with teammates against Conant in a boys volleyball game in Hoffman Estates Monday, May 10, 2021. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Lake Zurich's Nate Clarke smashes the ball straight down into the Conant side in a boys volleyball game in Hoffman Estates Monday, May 10, 2021.

      Lake Zurich's Nate Clarke smashes the ball straight down into the Conant side in a boys volleyball game in Hoffman Estates Monday, May 10, 2021. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Conant's Dhruv Patel dives to save a Lake Zurich shot in a boys volleyball game in Hoffman Estates Monday, May 10, 2021.

      Conant's Dhruv Patel dives to save a Lake Zurich shot in a boys volleyball game in Hoffman Estates Monday, May 10, 2021. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Conant's Jason Goeringer dives to save a Lake Zurich shot in a boys volleyball game in Hoffman Estates Monday, May 10, 2021.

      Conant's Jason Goeringer dives to save a Lake Zurich shot in a boys volleyball game in Hoffman Estates Monday, May 10, 2021. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Conant's Sean Beckman takes a shot past Lake Zurich's \l18\ in a boys volleyball game in Hoffman Estates Monday, May 10, 2021.

      Conant's Sean Beckman takes a shot past Lake Zurich's \l18\ in a boys volleyball game in Hoffman Estates Monday, May 10, 2021. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Conant's Pranav Joshi tries to get the ball past Lake Zurich's Ethan Pratt and Matt Conway in a boys volleyball game in Hoffman Estates Monday, May 10, 2021.

      Conant's Pranav Joshi tries to get the ball past Lake Zurich's Ethan Pratt and Matt Conway in a boys volleyball game in Hoffman Estates Monday, May 10, 2021. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Conant's George Tawfic hits toward Lake Zurich's Ethan Pratt and Matt Conway in a boys volleyball game in Hoffman Estates Monday, May 10, 2021.

      Conant's George Tawfic hits toward Lake Zurich's Ethan Pratt and Matt Conway in a boys volleyball game in Hoffman Estates Monday, May 10, 2021. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Lake Zurich's Nikola Zizich watches his shot get past Conant's Jacob Pietraszek in a boys volleyball game in Hoffman Estates Monday, May 10, 2021.

      Lake Zurich's Nikola Zizich watches his shot get past Conant's Jacob Pietraszek in a boys volleyball game in Hoffman Estates Monday, May 10, 2021. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 5/10/2021 8:42 PM

Lake Zurich is beginning to find its stride.

The Bears, who had lost six in a row until they won late on Saturday, made it two in a row Monday with a 25-20, 25-23 sweep over Conant in Hoffman Estates.

 

Lake Zurich coach Brett Stuart said that his team's 3-10 record is deceptive.

"Of our 10 losses, six of them have been in three sets," Stuart said. "And in five of those, we won the first game and then dropped two and three. So it was nice to win a game one and then finish off a game two."

Lake Zurich trailed early in the first set until freshman libero Anthony Kim hit the service line. Kim served up six consecutive points for the Bears including three aces to give Lake Zurich momentum and an 11-7 lead.

"I was just hitting my target," Kim said. "When you get points on serves, it is like free points for your team. It takes the pressure off. When we are confident, we play real well."

Conant (3-6) rallied behind Sean Beckmann and Nicolas Breiter to tie the game at 13-13.

It was tied four times after that with the final time coming at 20-20. Lake Zurich than ran off the final five points starting and ending on kills by Nate Clarke.

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"I had a pretty good day," said Clarke, who had six kills in the first set and would finish with 14 kills in the match.

"We just had a different mindset. We usually come out and win the first set and then we just slow down."

Clarke and his teammates had good reason to worry as they struggled with errors around the net and in service in the second set. Clarke was dominant at the net, keeping the Bears in the game.

Clarke had three kills for Lake Zurich as he traded points with Conant to tie the set at 12-12. Lake Zurich ran off three straight points with Clarke getting the first points off kills and Nikola Zizich had the other as the Bears took the lead for good at 15-12.

Lake Zurich appeared to have the game in complete control, leading 21-15. But Beckmann and Conant had other ideas.

Beckmann, who had 7 kills in the first set, was held to just one kill at this point. But the senior helped rally the Cougars with four kills as Conant inched back into the game and trailed 24-23.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Nikola Zizich then ended it when a smash from the middle to give the Bears the win.

"We turned the corner today," Clarke said. "It was a rough start to the season, but it was good day for us."

Ethan Pratt had 7 kills for Lake Zurich, Matt Conway had four kills and Zizich had three kills.

Beckmann led Conant with 12 kills, George Tawfic had five kills and Breiter had four kills.

"Offensively I thought we looked well and Sean Beckman had a ton of kills," Conant coach John Brown said. "But our defense struggled. We couldn't find a way to shut them down."

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