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St. Charles North

St. Charles North boys volleyball moves on, East ousted

BARTLETT – St. Charles North boys volleyball coach Todd Weimer does not have a mohawk or a tattoo, but that could soon change.

Weimer promised his team they could get mohawks if they won a sectional, and he would join them with the funky hairstyle and/or get a tattoo if the North Stars won the state title.

And after Friday’s 27-25, 25-20, Bartlett Sectional semifinal win against Wheaton North, the top-seeded North Stars are one step closer to some head and body changes.

This is the second time the North Stars have reached the sectional final, losing in that round in 2005.

“Let’s keep it going, I don’t care who we play in the sectional final,” Weimer said. “This is fun.”

The North Stars (29-6) will play No. 2 seeded Lake Park (25-12) after the Lancers defeated No. 12 seeded St. Charles East, 25-15, 25-17, in Friday’s second semifinal. That game will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Bartlett.

“I am very much looking forward to getting a mohawk,” said the North Stars’ Jonathan Orech, who had 10 digs and seven kills.

“I never have had hair shorter than I do now. It will be a new thing for me. It would be great to win sectional and get a mohawk.”

Game 1 was tight most of the way, but the North Stars pulled away with a four-point spurt to take a 13-11 lead and make it 17-11. Jake Hamilton had an ace and Jack Harbaugh a kill during the mini-run. Harbaugh’s kill made it 20-15.

However, Wheaton North (25-9), seeded fourth, fought back and tied the score at 24 and again at 25. 

St. Charles North won the game after Orech came through with a kill and then a block-kill.

“In the beginning we were a bit tense, but after that we got rolling and played our best,” Orech said. “We can kind of be a head-case team. But since the start of [the playoffs], we decided we’re done with that. We are going to stay focused, play smart and hard. We don’t panic in close games.”

In the second game, Wheaton North jumped to a 5-1 lead, but the North Stars stormed back with six straight points to take a 7-5 lead on Hamilton’s point. 

The Falcons tied the score at 7, and it remained before the North Stars opened up a 16-13 lead on a kill by Orech.

Wheaton North hung around, tying the score at 17, but never taking a lead down the stretch, as two kills by Kevin Beach put the North Stars ahead, 21-18.

A kill attempt that went out ended the game a short time later.

Beach finished with 10 kills, Harbaugh and Hamilton had four kills each and Pat Misiewicz tallied 24 assists. 

In Game 1 of the second semifinal, Lake Park (24-12) got off to an 8-1 lead over the Saints (20-19).

“It was a fast tempo,” said Saints setter Tom DeBruyne. “We played them before. We knew they were going to run fastballs. How they came out and played, it was difficult to handle.”

East did not wilt, getting back to 14-10. However, the Lancers got the momentum right back and took a 20-12 lead.

“We fought hard, but we were often down by so many it was just hard to recover,” Saints coach Kate McCullagh said. “When you start to see a glimpse of life, their fast offense would kind of take it from us.”

The Saints, playing in their first sectional semifinal, never seriously threatened again in the first game.

Lake Park came out in Game 2 determined not to let the Saints get any momentum back, taking a quick 5-0 lead before a serve that went long allowed East to get on the board.

A kill by Luke Spicer kept East within striking distance at 11-6, and then on a missed Lake Park serve and violation at 12-8.

The Saints stayed close, but never could put a serious dent in the Lancers’ lead.

“It was frustrating,” DeBruyn said. “The score was always there, but that is not what we were focusing on. We were focusing on getting momentum and playing our game. But they kept control of the game.”

Iain O’Connor’s kill brought the score to 20-15, but the Saints were not able to get any closer.

O’Connor led the Saints with eight kills. Jacob Samuels had eight digs; Luke Spicer four digs; DeBruyne 13 assists; and Davey Knudsen and Mark Healy five digs each.

“It was a great season on our part from wherewe were at the start of the season to where we are now,” DeBruyne said. “The improvement has been tremendous. 

“It’s been trial and error the entire time. We made school history, winning our first regional. I love the group of guys I played with.” 

McCullagh had nothing but praise for her team.

“The four teams that are here are a No. 1 seed, No. 2, No. 4 and then us, a No. 12,” she said. “It stinks to lose, but I am just so proud of my team.”

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