The teams gather on the court pregame for the National Anthem.
Waubonsie Valley has made a habit this season of coming back from the brink of defeat. Things were no different on Tuesday as the Warriors fought off five game points in the second game of their 25-23, 28-26 victory over host Metea Valley.
The Warriors had previously come back in matches against Marist and Glenbard West.
“We know that when we get in that position, we can come back. It’s not a done deal,” said Waubonsie Valley coach Al Lagger. “We know that’s prime time for us, we can step it up and do what we need to do.”
Waubonsie Valley (24-5, 4-0) trailed 24-20 in the second game on Tuesday before going on a 5-0 run that featured a kill and block from outside hitter Mike Storm.
The Warriors then lost back-to-back points, and faced another Mustangs game point – their fifth – at 26-25.
Waubonsie came back again to win three straight points, the last coming on an ace by middle Seth Salmon, to win the game and the match.
The back-and-forth second game featured 12 ties and seven lead changes.
Outside hitter Mike Simmons, who led the Warriors with 16 kills, said the team’s practice routine – with a threat of running – has helped build a never-say-die attitude.
“We have a lot of fight. We’ll never quit on a game, we always know we can come back and win,” said Simmons. “At practice, we always start off down and have to come back and win the game or else we have to run. That really helped today.”
Setter Luke Furman had 21 assists, two kills and two aces, Storm had eight kills and an ace and middle Tyler House had two kills and two blocks as the Warriors improved to 4-0 against Upstate Eight Valley competition.
Simmons had eight kills in the Warriors’ 25-23 opening game win. After Metea tied the game at 21-21, Simmons had two kills and a block as the Warriors went on a 4-2 run to finish off the game. The 6’6” sophomore’s perfectly-placed tap over two leaping Mustangs on game point gave the Warriors an early advantage.
Simmons’ strong play on Tuesday drew high praise from Lagger.
“He’s a consummate leader. He puts the ball in play when he has to, he swings hard when he has to,” said Lagger. “He’s a very intelligent player. If he sees a triple block, he’ll go up there and tip it in over the block.”
Outside hitter Martin Krasuski had seven kills and two blocks and opposite hitter Adam Miller had five kills and five blocks to lead the Mustangs.
Metea Valley (19-10, 2-4) coach John Aister is looking for someone to step up late in games for the Mustangs.
“I’d say half our losses this season have been just like today,” said Aister. “We’ve been up in a match, we’ve had control of a game, and we just can’t finish. We just need that one person to close for us.”
I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.