Downers Grove South’s Michael Schmitt had only one thought with his team clinging to a 24-23 lead in Game 3 of the championship match Saturday at the Mustang Invitational.
“Let it fly,” he said. “I got to put it down. Swing deep and don’t get blocked.”
Maybe that was more than one thought, but Schmitt provided the one point Downers South needed with a blistering kill at match point that gave the fourth-seeded Mustangs a 27-25, 22-25, 25-23 victory over Lake Park.
“It’s been a long weekend,” the 6-5 senior said. “But it was well worth it.”
Schmitt’s kill put the finishing touch on an improbable match that saw Downers South (19-4) nearly squander a 21-9 lead in Game 1, rally from down 17-11 to take a brief lead at 20-19 in Game 2 only to lose, then rally from down 12-9 in Game 3.
“We got a little too comfortable with that lead in the first set,” Schmitt said. “But we fought back and squeaked it out. The third set was a battle. One of our team goals is to go undefeated at home. We saw this as an awesome opportunity to do that.”
Schmitt had three of his match-high 15 kills and Jeremy Hroma added one of his six kills during Downers South’s 11-5 run late in Game 3 that erased the 12-9 deficit and gave the Mustangs a 20-16 lead.
Kills by the Lancers’ Shawn Fritsche (13 kills, three blocks) and Dominick Terry (eight kills) got Lake Park within 21-20, but a kill by Will Tischler (13 kills) and a Lake Park error all but sealed the outcome.
“We’re playing extremely well right now,” Downers South coach Kurt Steuer said. “It’s nice to see that consistency. It was an exciting match to be a part of.”
Jordan Pawlicki had 33 assists and 13 digs and libero Tyler Zowaski added 17 digs for Downers South. Quin Krisik had 31 assists and six kills and Sean Moore added five kills and three blocks for Lake Park (18-3).
“We dug ourselves a big hole in that first game,” Lake Park coach Tim Murphy said. “They played mistake-free volleyball and came out with a lot of energy. Our theory is to limit our errors and find our energy early, and obviously we didn’t do that.
“They had minimal service errors, played great defense, dug a lot of balls and were a good blocking team. I told our guys no doubt they wanted it on that side of the net. We have been on an upward incline the last two weeks. Hopefully, we can start climbing back up.”
New Trier (17-4), which lost to Lake Park 25-23, 25-20 in the semifinals, bounced back to defeat top-seeded but shorthanded Loyola (14-3) 25-19, 22-25, 25-23 for third place. Deerfield (13-4) beat Barrington for the second time in a week 25-22, 25-22 for fifth place.
Maine South (13-6) defeated Naperville North 25-16, 25-18 for seventh, and Lyons (13-3) won the Silver Division by defeating Wheaton Warrenville South 25-17, 24-26, 25-21.