ST. CHARLES – The St. Charles North boys volleyball team overcame a rowdy road atmosphere and rival St. Charles East on Tuesday, winning a tight Upstate Eight Conference River match, 25-20, 22-25, 25-20.
Jeff Rollins dished 27 assists and Nic Cook had 14 kills to help lead North (11-12, 2-0 UEC River) to victory.
The Saints opened strong on their home court led by senior RJ Yoder (nine kills) but unforced errors upset their rhythm and opened the door for North to take control. Rollins and Johnny Davern played big in the middle in Game 1 for North, which combined for 15 kills and only one hitting error.
Cook took control as the match progressed. He sparked the North Stars in the third game with a service ace and was responsible for five points in the set.
“It’s a big day, obviously it’s another game, another match, but in the heads of all the players in St. Charles, this rivalry is huge,” Cook said. “This whole day just builds up to this and we fight hard for this.”
“Good sportsmanship throughout the match, serve tough and first contact” was the mantra this week for St. Charles North coach Todd Weimer, and the North Stars were headed down that path, but East senior Luke Spicer, who ended the day with 18 kills and a .545 hitting percentage, helped rally the Saints with a blast through the middle to even the score at 4 in the decisive third game.
Even with Spicer’s strong performance, the North Stars’ defense and team play sealed the deal for North.
“We have been working that as of late,” Weimer said of the team’s block. “It makes everyone’s jobs a lot easier, we don’t have to pass, we don’t have to set, we don’t have to go hit. … Blocking is just critical.”
In East’s victorious Game 2, the Saints (2-2 UEC River) minimized their errors and keep momentum. That wasn’t the case in the other games.
“We just had a problem executing when we needed to,” East coach Kate McCullagh said. “We let them rattle off four, five points, and you can’t win matches if you let the opponent do that.”
Cook had 13 digs to go with his 14 kills.
Brendan Donlevy added 14 digs and eight kills for North while Ben Connor had 14 assists.