Boys volleyball: Benbow, Bolingbrook sweep past Neuqua Valley

Bolingbrook's Tristan Benbow (7) leaps for a kill during volleyball match between Neuqua Valley at Bolingbrook.  April 1, 2024.

BOLINGBROOK – Tristan Benbow and Connor Dmochowski make a pretty good team.

Benbow had 10 kills Monday to help lead Bolingbrook to a 25-18, 25-17 nonconference win over nonconference Neuqua Valley.

“We’ve been playing together for four years now,” Benbow said about setter Dmochowski. “We know each other really well. Part of my game tonight was me getting in a good groove, and part was Connor getting me the ball in the right spots.”

As well as the duo played offensively, however, it was a defensive play by the two seniors that turned the momentum of the match firmly in the Raiders’ favor.

Neuqua Valley hung with Bolingbrook (12-2) for much of the first set, and the Raiders held a 16-14 lead with Neuqua Valley serving. The Wildcats committed a serving error to give Bolingbrook the serve and a 17-14 lead. After a hitting error by Neuqua, Dmochowksi and Benbow combined for a block and a 19-15 lead. Although Neuqua got the serve back with a kill on the next serve, the block energized the Raiders in general and Benbow in particular. The 6-foot-6 senior got a kill for each of the Raiders’ next two points to move them out to a 21-16 lead, and they took advantage of four Neuqua hitting errors to close out the set.

Bolingbrook's Connor Dmochowski (11) sets a shot during volleyball match between Neuqua Valley at Bolingbrook.  April 1, 2024.

“We are still putting pieces together,” Benbow said. “It took us a little while tonight, but once we got into a good flow, we played really well. We are still working on some little things, but the season looks good so far.

“Our core [Benbow, Dmochowski, libero Tyler Vasquez, middle hitter Charlie Bialek] has really tried to pull through and work toward some of our big conference matches coming up with Lockport and Lincoln-Way West. They are our big rivals, and we want to be ready for them.”

The Raiders and Benbow continued their strong play in the second set. It was tied at 4 until Jacqson LeSure had back-to-back kills, followed by a Benbow kill and a Neuqua hitting error to move out to an 8-4 lead. After a net violation on Bolingbrook, Benbow had two straight kills and a block before a Neuqua hitting error. Benbow then got another kill, which was followed by a kill from Tavares Campbell and a block by Dmochowski to put Bolingbrook ahead 15-5.

The Raiders’ lead reached 19-6 on an ace by Joseph Downes, the only ace of the night for Bolingbrook, before Neuqua reeled off three straight points to cut it to 19-9. Down the stretch, Bolingbrook got a pair of kills from Julian Huerta to seal the victory.

Vasquez sparked the Raiders’ defense with a team-high 11 digs, while Michael Shay had three kills, and Huerta and Trevor Wardlow each had two.

Bolingbrook's Tyler Vasquez (1) comes up with a dig save during volleyball match between Neuqua Valley at Bolingbrook.  April 1, 2024.

“We got off to a bit of a slow start,” Bolingbrook coach Molly DeSerf said. “That has been a conversation we’ve been having all season. We have to have that mentality of going out and doing what we have to do right away, not waiting until halfway through the first set. We are going to have ups and downs throughout a match, but the key is to make the downs shorter and ups longer.

“We are figuring things out, especially at the service line. We have changed our mentality of serving this year. We want to make sure we get our serves inbounds. Serving errors are just free points for the other team. We want to get the ball in and let our defense work and start the offense.

“Connor does a great job of spreading the ball around, and our guys are adapting. Tyler Vasquez is a real spark for us. He gets the energy going. He is figuring out what space he can take on the court. This team has a bunch of good kids, and they are kind of goofy, but they know when to have fun and when to get down to business.”