Joliet Central probably caught district and SouthWest Suburban Blue rival Joliet West at the wrong time.
Brian Lyman recorded 12 kills and Noah Slowik 24 assists as the visiting Tigers won their third straight, 25-18, 25-17 over the Steelmen.
“It was good to see fans here,” Central coach Lindsey Suca said. “I do wish we had played them earlier, though, because our guys really get excited to play them. Maybe that excited feeling could have carried over.”
Central (5-24, 0-8) led the first game 9-8, but with freshman Kyler O’Connell and senior Zack Reece on serving rolls, West (9-15-2, 3-6) scored 12 of the next 13 points to lead 20-10. The Steelmen tried to recover but got no closer than 22-17 and 23-18.
In Game 2, the Tigers led 19-11 when Central’s six-point run to make it 19-17. After a Steelmen hitting error, Slowik served out the game, ending it on an ace.
“This was awesome,” Slowik said. “We wanted to have fun. It was nice to beat them in two. It went three last year; that was a nail-biter.
“Our conference and schedule were harder at the beginning than at the end. We beat H-F and Bolingbrook and we’d like to beat Lockport and Sandburg and have momentum going into the regional.”
In addition to Lyman’s hitting, which was huge, Reece finished with five aces and 12 digs and Nick Studer had five blocks for the Tigers.
“Lyman is absolutely a beast,” Slowik said. “I just have to throw it up there for him, and Studer and (Dominic) Galvan, too.”
“When we spread it out like we did (Thursday), we open up our offense and our middles get active,” Lyman said. “Noah has been doing a good job, and we’re running our offense.”
West coach Jason Herrmann called the victory “a pretty complete match. They came back on us both games, but that’s going to happen against a crosstown rival.
“We’ve been focusing on trusting each other and relying on one another, and we saw some of that (Thursday). Our freshmen (O’Connell and Luke Van Eck) did a nice job. They’re club players, so they have experience, and they’ve been playing against tough opponents with us.”
Jarvis Northington had four kills and Chris Vergel three for Central. Jacob Polson recorded six digs, Tyler Morgan five and Vergel three. Morgan had 13 assists and Jacob Wagner chipped in two aces and four digs.
“Our speech is the same every game,” Suca said. “We play well for a while, but we fall apart for one rotation or whatever. Sometimes our first game will be phenomenal and then the second is completely different.”
Suca said she has lost several players for various reasons but likes the group she has.
“We have people playing new positions, but the kids we have now are working hard,” she said. “They’re a pleasure to coach, attitude-wise.”