Four-year starter Earl Schultz waved to the crowd in between games of Payton’s Public League championship against Lane on Friday.
After the match, Schultz waved hello to his third Most Outstanding Player award.
Schultz finished with 16 kills and two aces — including a few crushing blows — as Payton defeated Lane 25-20, 25-21 for its fourth city title in five years.
"You think about all the years I’ve played with this team and I definitely wanted to go out with a bang,” Schultz said. “We left it all on the floor. We didn’t want to go to three sets with a good team like Lane.”
Schultz made sure of that. Trailing 19-18 in Game 2, Schultz tied the match with a kill. He then lit up the crowd with four kills over the final six points, notching an absolute blast on an overpass before putting the match to rest with put away No. 16.
“Earl’s been able to play like that since he was a freshman,” Payton coach Casey Feeney said. “This year, he’s played like that consistently. He’s finally developed confidence and he’s been taking over matches.”
Alex Brown chipped in seven kills and an ace for Payton (26-7), the top seed in the upcoming Westinghouse Sectional.
Zakir Pasha posted eight kills for Lane (13-2), which was making its first Public League finals appearance since 2005. Sean Brzoska added six kills and Alec Krilis had five. Both of Lane’s losses came at the hands of Payton.
“We had to have perfect passes in order to get our middles involved and we knew Payton was a tough-serving team,” Lane coach Kimberly Jordan said. “We just had a few too many errors.”
In Game 1, Pasha buried consecutive kills to tie the action at 18, but Schultz responded with a tip and followed with two aces.
“That was a little bit of a momentum shift,” Schultz said. “They called a timeout and we really dialed in and pushed it to the end.”
Payton and Lane could see each other again. The pair is favored to meet for a third time in the semifinals of the Westinghouse Sectional on May 30.