Boys volleyball: Grayslake North handles rival Grayslake Central

By John Bumbales
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 4/6/2022 8:56 PM

There were a lot of nerves in the air when host Grayslake Central met crosstown rival Grayslake North in an early-season boys volleyball rivalry match Wednesday night.

The visiting Knights led from start to finish in the first set as a spike by senior Nathan Atwell closed out a 25-19 victory for Grayslake North.


The second set was a different story as the Rams built a 19-15 lead and held a 21-18 lead very late in the set.

But the Knights (2-0, 1-0) would not fold when the chips were down as they forced a 22-22 deadlock before capturing a thrilling 25-23 victory for the match in the Northern Lake County Conference season opener for both squads.

Grayslake Central (1-2, 0-1) could not hold off the Knights' late surge in the second set as tap shot by Michael Myszka cut the lead to 21-19 before 3 service points by teammate Elijah Ayivi, including 2 aces gave Grayslake North a 22-21 lead.

The nerve-wracking final points saw the Rams tie the set at 22-22 only to see the Knights take a 23-22 lead. Grayslake Central's Jacob Beshel (10 kills) got a kill to tie the score at 23-23, but an error by Central on the ensuing point led to match point for North leading 24-23.

And the Knights did not let that opportunity slip away as a service point by Lukas Conover closed out the narrow victory for the visitors as Grayslake Central hit the ball out of bounds on match point.

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"It was a very close game, North is a solid team, fortunately we'll see them four times this season," said Grayslake Central coach Dan Erlenbaugh. "We're trying to find the way that we flow as a team, there is a lot of talent, and we have to find a way to play more cohesively."

Atwell had a huge match for the Knights with 10 kills, 7 digs, and 2 aces while Myszka played a huge role with 15 assists. Ryan Rhodes added 8 digs for North while Ayivi had 2 blocks.

"I really like how we were able to communicate and talk and pull the last set through," said Grayslake North coach Nikki Kirchway. "Central fought really hard, the second set they came out strong, and the key was our passing and running different plays."

Besides Beshel's 10 kills, the Rams got 5 kills and 14 assists from junior Ryan Huntington.

"We have a young team, but we've been working hard in practice and I was confident that we had a chance to win," said Atwell. "We never give up on a point, no matter what we are always fighting no matter what the score is."

Coach Kirchway is very optimistic that the Knights can continue to shine as the 2022 season unfolds.

"In the first game I think we were all showing jitters because it was our first conference match, it was a big game for us, and we were able to run our plays and put the ball down so we were excited about that," added Kirchway. "In the second set we really had to fight our way back and work hard, we didn't give up and we had great teamwork on that."

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