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Boys Volleyball: Minooka Towers Over Oswego East In Conference Victory

Oswego East huddles during a timeout in the first game of Thursday’s match.

Minooka’s boys volleyball team stood tall as the Indians defeated host Oswego East 25-8, 25-16 in a Southwest Prairie Conference match on Thursday.

The Indians, led by 6’9” middle Justin Toth, 6’6” middle Maalik Walker and 6’4” outside hitter Richard Bishop, towered over the Wolves as they cruised to a two game victory.

“It’s hard, you’re looking at college teams that are that tall. I was telling my guys to tool the block, because I knew they could block us straight on,” said Oswego East coach Jim Mueller.

“We were worried about Walker, he’s pretty good. He’s just so tall, he’s way over us. If he gets a good set, there’s nothing you can do.”

Walker led the Indians with six blocks and added four kills and an ace. Bishop was the Indians’ kill-leader with eight, while outside hitter Nicholas Vertin added six kills. Toth had two blocks and one kill.

Setter Philip Hannon led Minooka (15-2, 6-0) with 19 assists and five digs. Indians coach Janel Grzetich credited the junior for consistently setting up big shots for his teammates.

“Our setter was making some very smart decisions in terms of where we were in the rotations, where the defense was moving and when to set them,” said Grzetich. “Once he made passes, his teammates could see the open areas and they were hitting. They did a very good job of that.”

Minooka set the the tone early, shooting out to a quick 9-0 lead in the first game. Bishop had five kills and outside hitter Ryan Bauer had three aces as the Indians cruised to a 25-8 win.

The Wolves’ play was much improved to start the second game. Setter Sam Izzo’s ace gave Oswego East (3-12-1, 0-6) an early 5-1 lead. However seven points later, a block by Walker gave the Indians their first lead of the game, 7-6, and Minooka never looked back, winning the second game 25-16.

“We were out of sorts in the first game, and we’re a lot better than that. I give them a lot of credit, they hustled every ball, they hit everything down, they just outplayed us that first game,” said Mueller. “The second game, I was happy with our effort. I told the guys, ‘play loose, have fun and just do your job,’ and we did that.”

Despite his team’s slow start to the season, Mueller believes the Wolves are not far away from competing with the conference’s best teams.

“We have to improve on our passing,” said Mueller. “As soon as we get our passing down, we can compete with anybody. I believe that.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.

I went a little photo crazy at tonight’s game. Here’s an artsy shot of Oswego East’s fearsome-looking Wolves logo.

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Boys Baseball: Big Fourth Inning Powers Minooka Past Oswego East

Oswego East warms up before Tuesday’s game against Minooka.

After a promising start, Oswego East gave up eight runs in the fourth inning as the Wolves dropped their fifth straight game 12-1 to visiting Minooka in six innings on Tuesday.

Minooka first base man T.J. Condon had two hits and three RBI and pitcher Kevin Ruff only gave up two hits and one run as the Indians picked up the Southwest Prairie Conference victory.

“When you’re in a tight ball game, everybody is a little tense, hoping to get that first big hit,” said Minooka coach Jeff Petrovic. “Once we got the hit to take the lead, it just seemed like things kind of snowballed from there and we hit the ball really, really well.”

Wolves pitcher David Schurr held the Indians scoreless through three innings, giving up just three hits while striking out five.

The Wolves took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third when Nick Mazzocchi trotted home after Ruff was called for a balk.

However, things quickly went downhill for the Wolves. Minooka pounded out seven hits and eight runs as 12 Indians came to the plate in fourth inning.

Condon gave the Indians a 2-1 lead with a two-run single that caromed off the center field fence.

Max Brozovich, Dane Colvin, Tyler Thorson, Steve Wittkamp and Carson Neushwander all had RBI singles as the Indians tacked on six more runs in the inning.

“We weren’t trying to hit the ball as hard in the fourth,” said Wittkamp, who had two hits in the inning. “We were just trying to put it in play and hopefully try to make things happen.”

Joe Carnagio and Austin Polcyn had RBI singles and Condon added an RBI double as the Indians scored four more runs in the sixth inning to take a 12-1 lead.

Ruff found out he was going to start just 10 minutes before Minooka (11-8, 4-3) took the field, but that didn’t seem to have any ill-effect on the right-handed senior as he picked up the win.

“I didn’t have my best stuff but I was just throwing strikes and getting ahead early in the count,” said Ruff, who struck out five batters while walking two. “I think I only threw 60 pitches throughout the whole game, so I was really efficient.”

Oswego East (4-10, 2-5) coach Jim Vera said not much has gone right for the Wolves during their current five-game losing streak.

“We’re not hitting, we’re not playing defense. If we continue to fail at doing the little things right, it’s going to take a long time to get on the right track,” said Vera. “The talent is here, just the confidence isn’t right now.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.

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