Lincoln-Way Central unloaded its best punch Friday night, but it still wasn’t enough to knock out top-seeded Lincoln-Way East in a Marist Sectional semifinal.
Ryan Vorderer blasted 14 kills, Austin Royer distributed 26 assists and Lincoln-Way East ended Central’s upset run with a 25-22, 25-20 conquest.
“Both times we played Central [before Friday], we handled them pretty easily,” Vorderer said. “That was a whole different team than we saw earlier. Their blocking and defense was really on and they challenged us.”
Aaron Reidwick contributed five kills, Mike Rossetto had four and Josh Phalen continued his back row cleanup with 16 digs for East (37-1). Royer added two blocks, two aces and three kills.
The Griffins advance to play Lincoln-Way North (34-4) 7 p.m. Tuesday at Marist for a trip to the state quarterfinals. East leads the season series vs. North 3-1.
Adam Sargis led Central (24-14) with seven kills — most of those coming in a stellar Game 2. Erik LeBeau had five kills and five digs and Mike Kulinksi had 17 assists and eight digs.
“I can walk out with my head held high,” Central coach Brian Danielson said. “I don’t think anyone was expecting us to give them a run like that. It was a great match to coach.”
East kept Central at bay for much of Game 1, but a late surge saw LeBeau notch consecutive kills to tie it at 21. Royer, though, followed a Central service error with an ace and Mike Rossetto put the game away with a kill.
“East played phenomenal defense,” Danielson said. “They were digging like it was nobody’s business.”
Game 2 seesawed back and forth until an ace from Nate Van Dellan and a block from Royer gave East a 20-15 advantage. Central cut it to three, but Vorderer made it 22-18 with an explosive kill.
Central, which lost nine of 18 before upsetting Sandburg in the regional finals, put its hands on a lot of balls to slow the East attack. Connor Hipelius, one of several key players set to return for the Knights, was credited with a solo block and eight touches.
“We haven’t been blocked like that in a while,” East coach Kris Fiore said. “You have to tip your hat to that team because they really played well.”