Boys volleyball: Lincoln-Way West rallies for sweep of Providence

Warriors take the match 25-16, 27-25

Lincoln-Way West’s Connor Jaral powers a shot past teh defense of Providence on Wednesday, April 3, 2024 in New Lenox.

NEW LENOX — Midway through the second set of Wednesday night’s match against Providence, Lincoln-Way West coach Jodi Frigo called a timeout with her team trailing 15-9.

After the timeout, the Warriors (9-1) outscored their rivals from just north on Gougar Road 18-10 to win the set 27-25 and take the match in two after winning the first set 25-16.

“I just told the guys to get back to basics,” Frigo said. “Keep on doing them. It starts with the pass. If we can get our passes up, which we weren’t doing early in the second set, then our hitters will do the job. Everyone did that and our passes got better and so did our offense.

“This was our first match at home since the first match of the season. I think the guys were pretty excited to see some fans and be back on their own court. We were able to create some energy from that.”

One player that was energized was senior outside hitter Connor Jaral, who had a match-high 11 kills.

“This was a little tighter match than we wanted,” Jaral said. “At the timeout, coach told us to take it one point at a time. There was no serve or swing that was going to get us seven points at once, so we had to stay calm and go one point at a time.

“It’s always fun to play against Providence. Their school is right down the road from ours, and a lot of us play club ball together, so we know each other pretty well.”

Getting back to basics for the Warriors (9-1) meant getting the ball to Jaral.

After his team tightened the score to 17-12, Jaral delivered three kills and a block in an eight-point stretch. His third kill of the run gave West a 19-18 lead. The lead grew to 23-20 before Providence (7-5) got back-to-back kills from Jackson Fowler to pull to within 23-22.

The teams traded points before Providence tied it on a hitting error. The Celtics went up 25-24 on a net violation, but Lincoln-Way West tied it with a kill by Hunter Vedder and got back-to-back kills from Drew Kregul to end it.

Providence’s Hayden Hill knocks down a shot behind Lincoln-Way West’s Noah Konopack on Wednesday, April 3, 2024 in New Lenox.

West jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the first set and never looked back. They went up 16-8 on an ace by Colin Dargan before a kill by David Neylon made it 21-12. The set ended on a block by Kregul.

Sean Dovin led Providence with five kills, while Fowler and Hayden Hill each had four. Nico Crabbe had 15 assists.

“We played at a high level in parts of Game 2,” Providence coach Lee Rucinski said. “We played better team volleyball. We need to keep our energy at that level because we are an energy team.

“Hayden Hill allows us to use two big middles. When our middles are involved, that opens up the rest of the offense. We need to stay consistent with our play. We had too many mistakes, both mental and physical, and you can’t do that against a team like Lincoln-Way West.”

Lincoln-Way West’s Drew Kregul goes for the kill against Providence on Wednesday, April 3, 2024 in New Lenox.

West got 11 kills from Jaral, while Vedder had six and Kregul had three kills to go with three blocks. Noah Konopek had 17 assists and seven digs, while Colin Balkie had four digs and Neylon had three blocks.

“One thing about our team this year is that all 15 guys on the roster play club volleyball,” Frigo said. “That depth really helps us out. We have a lot of very capable players we can put out there. It was nice to see us play consistent, good, solid volleyball.”