Naperville Central had been waiting since April 8.
“We have thought about this match for weeks,” Redhawks junior outside hitter Jack Burton said of his team’s meeting Thursday with visiting Lake Park in Naperville.
“They’re the team that gave us our only loss in conference. We needed this one to tie them. It’s been a long process of thinking about them. They’re an amazing team, and I’m glad we came out and pulled it off.”
The 6-4 Burton had 13 kills, Dan Trembacki had 28 assists and Jon Chiczewski added 11 kills including the match-winner as Naperville Central rallied from a 22-21 deficit in Game 3 to defeat Lake Park 25-18, 16-25, 25-23.
The win left Naperville Central (21-3, 7-1) tied atop the DuPage Valley Conference standings with Lake Park (19-4, 7-1), which had tied the match at a set apiece with a 12-2 run to end Game 2.
“There have been a lot of ups and downs, but we’ve won some really big matches lately,” Burton said. “I think they have shown us that we’re in the mix for the state. We’re going for it all. We took down a No. 1 seed (Lincoln-Way North) last week and Lake Park is up there in the rankings.
“We’re right there with everybody. It’s good to know that.”
Lake Park squandered a 14-kill, five-block effort from 6-5 senior middle hitter Sean Moore and a 33-assist, five-kill performance by setter Quin Krisik.
“I gave the same speech that I gave after (a loss last week to) Downers Grove South,” Lake Park coach Tim Murphy said. “Who can make plays at the end of the game? We made two errors to end the game and they made plays to win the game.
“We got to 20-20. How many times have we practiced that? Thousands of times. We just have to be the team that finishes at the end, that makes plays, that is aggressive. You can’t play soft. You can’t make errors, but you have to play hard, aggressive volleyball. They did and we didn’t at the end.”
A kill by Burton tied Game 3 at 22-22, then Chiczewski gave the Redhawks a lead they would not relinquish with a blast off the block. Lake Park failed to clear the net on the next point, and a Naperville Central service error only delayed the inevitable.
“Too many errors,” Murphy said. “Our defense was nonexistent early on. I think we allowed the energy and momentum to slide way too easily from our side to theirs. You have to keep that energy and momentum on your side.”
Kasper Mazurek added six kills and Michael Timmerberg had five kills and an ace for Naperville Central.
“The last time we played them, we played half of Game 2 and stopped playing,” Naperville Central coach Roger Strausberger said. “We lost our momentum and lost our confidence. They beat us 25-13 in Game 3. I said we have to muster up some energy tonight in Game 3. We scrapped.”