Lincoln-Way East makes school history at Tiger Classic

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You never know what you’re going to find in freshman study hall. That’s where Lincoln-Way East coach Kris Fiore “discovered” 6-1 senior middle hitter Aaron Redweik three years ago.

“He had never played volleyball before, but we took him into the gym and he could touch 10-foot-7,” Fiore said. “He hit the weight room, worked on his legs, and now he can touch 11-4. He’s not a very tall kid, but he’s the best jumper we’ve had since Nate Royer.”

Saturday against New Trier in the finals at WW South, Redweik had eight kills, including back-to-back putaways to help the Griffins rally from a 17-14 deficit in Game 2, as Lincoln-Way East won its first-ever Tiger Classic title with a 25-23, 25-21 victory.

Ryan Vorderer led Lincoln-Way East (12-0) with 15 kills and two blocks, Nate Van Dellen added six kills and two blocks and Austin Royer contributed 27 assists. But it was the unheralded Redweik who came up big with New Trier threatening to extend the match to a third game.

“I’ve got to give my setter (Austin Royer) a shoutout, because with him as my setter it’s definitely a lot easier to get kills,” Redweik said. “I just jump high and I know he’s going to put the ball where it needs to be. ‘Swing away.’ That’s what I tell myself. Just swing away.”

After a kill by Van Dellen closed the gap to 17-15, Redweik buried a tip feed from Van Dellen to trim the deficit to 17-16. On the next play, he sent back a tip attempt by New Trier to tie the set. Later, he gave the Griffins the lead for good at 21-20 lead with another kill.

“I just tell myself. ‘Don’t be afraid of anything.’” Redweik said. “I believe even if you’re down, you can do whatever you need to do to come back. In the huddle, I told the guys to lose the fear of losing. We know we can do. That’s what I told them. When we’re out there, I just do my best and forgot the rest.”

The victory helped Lincoln-Way East erase the memory of last year’s quarterfinal loss to Sandburg and a semifinal setback at the hands of WW South two years ago.

“We came into this tournament really excited,” Royer said. “We really wanted to get this tournament and make history for all the Lincoln-Ways. In tough situations, you just got to relax and play your best. Play how you know how to play.”

New Trier (4-2), which outlasted Lake Park 25-17, 22-25, 25-22 in the semifinals, got 12 kills from 6-1 sophomore Peter Hindsley, five kills from 6-5 senior Whit Ryan, four kills and two blocks from 6-7 Jack Serrino and 27 assists from 6-3 junior setter Dante Chakravorti.

“They’re (L-W East) a great team,” Chakravorti said. “They execute really well all the way around. I thought we played well and showed a lot of fight. If we cleaned up some small things, the match could have gone three and it could have gone either way.

“We’re happy with close games with some of the top teams in the state. We’re very happy.”

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