Lake Park has been looking forward to this game for two years, ever since seven of the seniors were brought up to the varsity as sophomores and watched their team lose to Barrington in the state quarterfinals.
The next day, even though their team had been eliminated, those seven sophomores went back to watch the rest of the state tournament.
“We had a good group of sophomores that year,” Lake Park setter Quin Kristi said. “That was a good feeling to go to state, but it ended shortly. I knew it was going to be our turn in one or two years. We wanted to remember it so we went back the next day and got the feeling of state.
“We really bonded as a team. That really built a foundation for this year, for the sectional and now for going to state.”
Lake Park is returning to the state quarterfinals at the expense of the team that broke the Lancers’ hearts in 2012, getting seven kills from Shawn Fritsche, six kills each from Sean Moore and Dominick Terry and 18 assists from Krisik to defeat Barrington 25-17, 25-21 Tuesday at the Conant Sectional.
Lake Park (32-6) advanced by breaking form. The Lancers had struggled in Game 1 much of the season and particularly against Addison Trail in the sectional semifinals. But leading 15-12, they took command of Game 1 and closed on a 10-5 run.
“It felt good to win the first game,” Lake Park coach Tim Murphy said. “But we knew we still had to battle back. The mindset after Game 1 was that we lost Game 1 and our backs were still against the wall. That is how we wanted to play.”
Like it had in Game 1, Barrington (28-9) built a 7-5 lead early in Game 2 then fell behind 14-13. This time, however, the Broncos rallied to take a 19-18 lead on an ace by Connor Wright (five kills) and a rare Lake Park error.
But the lead was short-lived. Lake Park scored the next four points and eventually won on a Barrington hitting error.
“I think one of the reasons we struggled is that we were thinking a little too much about the game plan we had set for today,” Barrington junior Justin Glader said. “At some point, you just have to start playing. Like coach (Rob Ridenour) said, ‘Think between the plays and then play like your hair’s on fire.’”
Colin Castagna led Barrington with seven kills and Wright and Justin Glader both had five. Junior setter Noah Ricchetti added 18 assists and two kills.
“I thought Lake Park played amazing.” Ridenour said. “They kept balls alive. Game 1 was tight through 15 and Game 2 was tight through 20. But we just couldn’t get over that hump because they were making a ton of plays.”