Lincoln-Way North’s Max Lawrence is a player who understands his role.
And it’s a good thing he does, because the junior is the cousin of North head coach Matt Lawrence.
“I always tell him he’s going to get beat up at family parties if he doesn’t listen,” Matt Lawrence joked.
It’s sinking in for the middle hitter. Max Lawrence put up a wall at the net Wednesday night against Lincoln-Way Central, recording seven blocks and four kills in a 25-19, 25-23 SouthWest Suburban showdown.
“Blocking is my priority,” Max Lawrence said. “Hitting is still something I need to work on as as a middle, but blocking is where I can be better for my team and greatly impact the game.”
With the first set tied at 14, Max Lawrence spurred a 5-0 run with three blocks, giving North enough of a cushion to coast into Set 2.
Jake Walenga posted a match-high 14 kills, Brad McFarland had nine and Austin Faller contributed 22 assists for North (28-3, 7-0).
Kyle Trost and Connor Hipelius paced Central (21-10, 3-3) with four and three blocks, respectively. Adam Sargis added four kills and sophomore Mike Kulinski dished 11 assists.
The second set was close until North went on a 8-2 surge behind four Walenga kills. McFarland capped the scoring rush with a kill on a nice back set from Faller.
“Last year, I was only playing half a rotation,” Faller said. “Now I’m getting a lot more reps and feel like I’ve improved a lot. My location is better.”
Central was able to answer North’s second-set run behind a kill and block from Lars Torkelson, which cut the Phoenix lead 23-22. But two service errors and a Walenga kill ended the match.
Central, with a few new faces in the starting lineup, posted just 12 kills for the match.
“We’ve got to find away to put the ball down if we want to beat the elite teams like that,” Central coach Brian Danielson said.
The Knights played without the services of standout sophomore Neal Brown, who may be lost for the season due to a shoulder injury. Brown, present on the bench, said he’s going for an MRI on Thursday.