Lincoln-Way East started out strong and made the key plays when it had to as the No. 4 Griffins defeated host Marist 25-21, 25-22 in the championship match of the Redhawks’ Invitational.
Nate Van Dellen and Ryan Vorderer had eight kills each and Austin Royer added 25 assists to lead the Griffins (6-0).
“It shows that we have a strong team, a lot of effort and it’s just our first tournament of the year, so we’re just getting started,” Van Dellen said of the victory.
Lincoln-Way East reached the final after defeating cross-town rival Lincoln-Way North 25-19, 22-25, 15-13 in a thrilling three-set match and carried that momentum into the final.
“It was huge getting by (Lincoln-Way) North because they beat us the last three years in the semis in this tournament,” Griffins coach Kris Fiore said. “All the kids know each other, it’s always high-intensity matches but we stressed to them that it’s important to come out with that same intensity in the final.”
Lincoln-Way East did just that in Game 1 as an Aaron Redweik kill followed by a Mike Rossetto block gave the Griffins an early 6-1 lead.
“Our serving and blocking was on early and it was a good effort on defense by everyone,” Van Dellen said.
After a Vorderer kill extended the Griffin lead to 18-12, Marist fought back and closed to within 23-21 with Matt Munro kill. But the Redhawks made consecutive errors on offense to close out the game.
“We’re a pretty poised group as a lot of our guys have been playing club together for years but winning the first game was important,” Fiore said.
In Game 2 Marist (7-1) started out strong and built a 15-9 lead after another Munro kill. Lincoln-Way East answered with an 11-3 run capped by a Royer kill to take a 20-18 lead. Lincoln-Way East led 24-22 before Vorderer’s final kill sealed the victory.
“I think this victory makes a statement to other teams that even though we only have one senior, that we are a good team,” Van Dellen said.
“I was happy with the way our boys played throughout the whole tournament and it just didn’t turn out the way we would have wanted it to,” Marist coach Jodi Frigo said.
Lincoln-Way North defeated Stagg 25-12, 21-25, 15-7 for third place.