Boys volleyball: Wheaton North rallies past Saints in 3
Brian Knoerr's skill development from his freshman year to now as a senior "speaks for itself."
"We see it all the time in our district -- in our sport in general -- many freshman boys play for the first time, so he was one of those," Wheaton North coach John Noe said of Knoerr following the Falcons' 23-25, 25-18, 25-23 comeback win over St. Charles East on Thursday. "He didn't really dabble in middle school at all."
"So, starting from nothing to get to where he was -- not having a junior high school season -- his leadership is what shocked me coming in [to the season]," Noe continued. "But, then also what the team bought in and what he's able to get the guys doing just by his presence, his emotions and his intensity and then ultimately his performance, too [stands out]."
Knoerr, who had seven kills, "is a true team captain in all sense of the word."
"I just love the game of volleyball, just going out there and being passionate and representing my school in the best way possible," Knoerr said. "You live for these moments growing up. You want to be the guy on the main floor on Friday night. Just being out here to represent my team, wearing this jersey is what I live for [and] what I always wanted to do."
Knoerr, a three-year varsity right side, will play collegiately at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C.
"I'm so excited," he said. "Obviously, my mind is focused right now [on the postseason]. It's been always a life goal of mine to play and be a college athlete, no matter what division it is, and [it's] an honor to play the sport I love for four more years."
The Saints (2-11, 2-9) took the first set, but the Falcons (18-7, 8-4) rebounded in timely fashion -- including in a back-and-forth third set -- to win the match, both matchups this season with St. Charles East and their fourth consecutive win.
In the third set, both teams tied 10 total times. Knotted at 23-23, Knoerr drove home a kill for match point. After a volley that lasted 40 seconds, Falcons middle blocker Luke Burden was able to snag a crucial kill at the net to sink the Saints' spirited effort.
"We just had that mentality [of] not letting the ball drop no matter where it's getting hit," Knoerr said of the final rally. "Right there, that last play, we just played as a team. We play as a whole. We weren't letting that ball drop. That's how we can play. That's how we always can play, and we just showed that we had the desire to want to win it out there."
Jake Daeschler had seven kills for the Saints, while Jacob Boecher had six kills and Bennett Mortensen had three kills and an ace.
"At the beginning of the year, we struggled a little bit staying together. We're all really close friends, so I think actually being able to talk constructively to each other, rather than at each other, helped us grow throughout the year," Boecher said. "Now ... being friends and staying light on the court helped us a lot get better throughout the year."