Boys volleyball: Maine South rallies past Libertyville

 
By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 4/25/2022 8:30 PM

Monday night at Libertyville was all about the teachers.

It was staff appreciation night on the Wildcats home court for the boys volleyball program, and not even a difficult 25-22, 20-25, 19-25 loss to visiting Maine South could dampen the spirit in the gym.

 

Each Wildcats player chose a staff member to honor for going 'above and beyond', and for junior Nick Loizzo, it was math teacher Christee Joesten.

"It means so much to me to be recognized by these amazing students," said Joesten. "I don't usually get to see them in anything other than an academic setting, so being here to watch them participating in something they really enjoy is very meaningful.

"Nick is in my AP calculus class, and we're actually getting ready for the AP exam in a couple of weeks. He brings so much joy into the classroom -- he always walks in with a smile on his face and adds a lot of positive energy."

Loizzo and his teammates used superior blocking and defense to take the first set, then Maine South made some adjustments to come away with the final two sets and the match victory.

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"I was really proud of our guys tonight," said Hawks coach Garrett Fechner, "because we took them out of system, which says something about our team and how we were serving tough, attacking tough and picking good spots."

"Libertyville is a great team, they're well coached and they have size. Our defense and serve-receive was really working well tonight. Our No. 4, (libero) Chris Karnezis -who is a first team all-stater in my opinion -- well, he's just rock solid every match."

The Wildcats blocked Maine South's path in game one, as they had 5 block kills, 2 from Braden Andersen, to take the lead.

Then Maine South completely turned it around in game two, using the play of 6-5 senior middle Jason Lee (8 kills, 4 solo blocks) to tie the contest.

"Our setter (Jameson Schmeltz) was making them scramble," said Fechner, "and keeping them honest."

Libertyville opened up an early lead in the deciding set but Maine South roared back, taking a 9-8 lead on a block from Jake Birkett.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The advantage grew to 5 points after a block from Lee, then the Hawks extended it to 21-15 on an ace by Max Jokinen.

Libertyville was able to creep closer, but a kill from Schmeltz, then a Schmeltz set to Lee for the final point, closed out the match.

Karnezis finished with 14 digs.

"Our middles, the Danciu twins (Lorian and Adrian) had some great runs tonight, and so did Lee," said Fechner. "Our back row and our pins really made some adjustments between game two and game three, and when you make those little adjustments, that'll get you a win."

And Fechner, an English teacher himself, also mentioned how impressed he was with the pregame ceremony.

"Libertyville's coach (Jenny Smith) told me before the match that they were going to honor teachers tonight," Fechner said. "That was a class act, and I loved seeing it. Any team that wants to do that is OK by me."

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