Lincoln-Way East stays alive in conference title race with win over Lockport

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Staying alive was the objective for Lincoln-Way East in Thursday’s 25-22, 25-22 SouthWest Suburban Blue victory over Lockport.

The Griffins were focused on two things going into the game.

“Working harder and staying focused,” setter Taylor Nirchi said. “I feel like we were kind of trying to think about other stuff rather than focusing on the game we were playing.

“We pretty much just told ourselves, ‘This is our senior year, we want to win and this is our chance.’ ”

Jessica Lindsey led the way for the Griffins (16-12, 4-1) with 15 kills and seven digs, while Nirchi had 20 assists, Macie Lawrence eight digs and Sarah Dobrich six kills.

Lockport (15-12, 3-2) was paced by Kayla Pfeiffer (7 kills, 11 digs), Olivia Witsaman (5 kills, 10 assists), Sarah Kurzawski (5 kills) and Lindsey Visvardis (5 assists).

Lincoln-Way East and Sandburg will meet Tuesday in a match that will go a long way toward deciding the conference title. The two teams were tied at the start of the week at 3-0, but Sandburg beat Lockport on Tuesday while East lost to Bolingbrook.

East beat Sandburg in three in the Palos Courts summer league championship match.

“They’ll be out for revenge,” a smiling Lindsey said. “But we’ll be ready for them.”

When it mattered the most on Thursday, the Griffins were fully focused.

Set 1 was tied at 21-21 when Josie Wierzal struck for East with a kill and Lindsey put down another from the back row. Lockport got back within one on a block-kill by Meredith Friscia, but Wierzal hammered a Porters overpass and Christina Chillon landed an ace just inside the back line for the winning point.

Set 2 had the same back-and-forth flavor that settled into the final tie at 22-22. An unforced error by Lockport untied it, before Lindsey and Carly Collins went back-to-back with kills for the Griffins to end it.

“We’re really young and we’re a little inconsistent right now,” Nirchi said. “We want to do the best that we can do. We want to keep going up instead of taking all of these dips down and going back up and having a high, and going back down again.

“We’ve done really well in our two tournaments this year. After the McAuley Challenge, that was kind of our high. Now we want to stay up there.”

For Lockport, it was the second consecutive tough conference loss after starting the week 3-0.

“Mental errors have been the death of us lately,” Lockport coach Erika Lange said. “Down the stretch we’d have a net violation, a missed serve. In a game like this with a conference rival, a solid rival, mental errors just can’t occur.”

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