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Payton wins fourth straight conference title

05/06/2014, 7:45pm CDT
By Michael Wojtychiw

Payton won its fourth consecutive conference title, defeating Von Steuben 25-15, 25-19 behind Earl Schultz's 10 kills.

To win one conference title is hard.  To win four consecutive conference titles, as Payton was trying to do on Tuesday, is quite the accomplishment.

Playing Von Steuben on Senior Night, the Grizzles pulled out a 25-15, 25-19 win to claim the Gold conference title yet again.

“The progression of our program over the last four years has laid a foundation for the future,’’ Payton coach Casey Feeney said. “Earlier on, we had to fight teams to get there {the top). Now the boys just expect to be there and when they’re not it’s a big disappointment.’’

The Panthers were going for their first conference title since 1999, the same year they won their last city title.

“We knew that they only had one loss coming in and we wanted to win the title, so that gave us a little extra motivation,’’ said senior Earl Schultz. “When you have a crowd like we had tonight, it’s easy to get motivated.’’

Schultz, who will be attending Pitzer College in California next year, has been on varsity all four years and has seen a difference in not only his game, but in a program that continues to get better.

“It’s been a journey, an exciting journey,’’ Schultz said. “Learning from the upperclassmen on how to be a leader was key for me. It’s awesome to see how the program has progressed and it’s been an awesome ride."

That awesome ride continued right out of the gates for Payton, which jumped out to a 7-2 lead and didn’t look back. Von Steuben showed resiliency and fought back to cut the lead to 14-11, but then seniors Schultz and Alex Brown took over. The two combined to score three of the next 11 points and were aided by five Von Steuben errors.

The second set was more competitive as Von Steuben (14-8, 7-2) went toe-for-toe with the Grizzles, going on numerous runs. Those runs ended, however, when Payton's Lincoln Wang used his serve to help rattle off four consecutive points, giving the Grizzlies a 15-12 lead they would not relinquish.  Three consecutive aces from Schultz put the match away and it was Schultz who fittingly finished the match with a thunderous kill.

Schultz led Payton (20-7, 9-0) with 10 kills, while Brown added five and Wang dished out 23 assists. James Price had seven kills to lead Von Steuben.


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