Boys volleyball: Lockport outlasts Bolingbrook in 3 sets for Southwest Suburban Conference victory

Porters prevail 26-24, 21-25, 31-29 for 15th win in a row

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LOCKPORT – With someone like Evan Dziadkowiec on the volleyball court, it’s like having another coach.

“Evan is very cerebral,” Lockport coach Nick Mraz said of his senior setter. “He puts a lot of weight on his shoulders and puts it all on himself. He’s out there talking everyone up and keeping the guys going.”

Dziadkowiec was calm under pressure and kept the Porters the same. In the end, that was the key as they survived five match points and emerged with a 26-24, 21-25, 31-29 victory over an excellent Bolingbrook team in a Southwest Suburban Conference clash Tuesday evening at Lockport.

It was the 15th win in a row for the Porters (20-1, 2-0), but it wasn’t easy as Bolingbrook (21-5, 1-1) gave them everything they could handle and more.

“It was a great match, and we knew it was going to be a huge one,” Dziadkowiec said. “But we know we have it in us. The third set was a marathon and there were times that we couldn’t put the ball away, but we stepped it up when we had to.”

Dziadkowiec, a four-year varsity starter, had 37 assists and a career-high six blocks. Many of those blocks were at key moments as Lockport knew it was in a battle throughout.

“Molly does a great job there, and every year we know they’re such a defensive team,” Mraz said of Raiders coach Molly DeSerf. “They are all over the place. But [a difference] was our experience factor. I’d like to think we were calm.”

With everyone back but one player from last season, the Porters had that experience factor and it showed down the stretch. There were 18 ties in the third set, including 12 through 13-all. But it looked like Lockport had taken control with a 7-2 burst for 20-15 lead.

It was 22-17 before Bolingbrook came back with four straight points. But two Raiders’ errors gave Lockport a 24-21 lead. Then a serve into the net put the Raiders back on serve. A block and a kill by senior middle blocker Tristan Benbow, who led the team with 15 kills, highlighted a 4-0 run as they moved a point from victory.

That was the first of five match points, but each time the Porters responded. Senior middle blocker Oskar Skurski (4 kills) tied it at 25, a serve into the net knotted it at 26, and a kill by senior middle blocker Erik Gonzalez (5 kills, 3 blocks) tied it at 27.

“We knew it was going to be tough,” Gonalez said. “We just had to get blocks, touches and do whatever we could. Bolingbrook is a good team and very solid. We could see them again in the sectional [which Bolingbrook hosts]. But we know how to stay calm under pressure and trust each other.”

After a serve into the net, a kill by senior outside hitter Josh Bluhm, who led Lockport with a match-high 16 kills and added three blocks and 10 digs, tied it at 28-all. A kill by senior middle blocker Charlie Bialek (11 kills) gave the Raiders one last match-point opportunity. But Bluhm got a block, Bolingbrook hit a return into the net and senior outside hitter Nate Nacino (10 kills, 11 digs, two blocks) knocked down the match-winning kill.

A victory would have given the Raiders a school record for wins in a season. They nearly had the opening set, leading 21-17. But Lockport responded with a 7-2 spurt, capped by back-to-back kills by Nacino, to lead 24-23. Benbow had a kill to tie it, but a miss hit and a block by Dziadowiec ended the opener.

“Those blocks felt good,” Dziadkowiec said. “I was able to take control at the net.”

Bolingbrook jumped out to leads of 10-3 and 12-4 in the second set. The Porters tied it at 14, but Bialek got a kill and a block to give the Raiders the lead for good at 16-14. Ahead 19-18, Benbow accounted for three straight points with two kills and a block as Bolingbrook pulled away.

“We were right there,” DeSerf said. “We are figuring out that we can compete and compete at that level. We battled our butts off, and I’m proud of the guys. They pushed themselves, sold out, and everyone was on the same page.

“We want it [the school record for wins], and we want to make it sooner than later and make it count.”

Senior outside hitter Tristan Caminar had 11 kills, 10 digs and two blocks for Bolingbrook. Senior setter Connor Dmochowski recorded 45 assists with two blocks and seven digs. Senior libero Tyler Vasquez had 19 digs and junior defensive specialist Nahya Scott added nine digs for the Raiders.

It was the last conference meeting between the two teams as the Raiders will move to the Southwest Prairie Conference next season.

Senior libero Kevin Rodriguez had 19 digs and two assists for Lockport, which has only one SWSC title when it was co-conference champion with Lincoln-Way East and Lincoln-Way West in 2021. The Porters are ranked No. 3 in the state in the latest Illinois Prep Volleyball poll. They will be at the Lincoln-Way East Tournament this weekend where they could run into No. 2 ranked Marist or No. 1 ranked Glenbard West.

“We have a lot of great competition coming up,” Dziadkowiec said. “We’re really excited.”