Neuqua escapes; former Naperville North star honored

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By Phil Brozynski

Prospect is just 2-6 in the Mid-Suburban League East, but that did not prevent the Knights from taking Neuqua Valley to three games Monday in Naperville.

Neuqua Valley (29-3) survived the threat to earn a 25-20, 24-26, 25-20 win in the annual nonconference match. Rob Bauer led the Wildcats with 12 kills, Jake Blackman added nine kills, six digs and a block, Sean Harmon had 36 assists and Collin Adler and Brian Clark each added seven kills.

Prospect (20-11) trailed 18-13 in game three, but an ace by Ben Moxley pulled the Knights within 22-20. A kill by Neuqua Valley middle Derek Menendez off an overpass and an ace by Clark allowed Neuqua Valley to escape with the win.

“We need to play more consistent defense,” Blackman said. “Our blocking was there and our offense was there. Everything was working for us. Once we get our defense and passing down, everything else should be OK.”

Prospect got 16 kills from 6-2 senior outside Scott Pickle and 11 kills and two blocks from 6-5 junior Kevin Reed, who has been the Knights’ most consistent player. Reed did not miss a serve in 11 attempts and added an ace.

“Our offensive game plan broke down a little bit tonight,” Prospect coach Mike Riedy said. “We let them run too many points with the serve.”

◘ Sandburg went just 2-3 at last weekend’s Lincoln-Way East tournament with eight seniors missing due to prom. Nevertheless, the Eagles’ junior varsity team nearly knocked off Lyons in pool play Friday, falling 25-23, 25-23, and extended No. 1 seed Naperville Central to three games in the silver division semifinals.

Brother Rice continues to struggle, losing to Joliet and Lake Forest in pool play and Lincoln-Way East in a silver division semifinal. Naperville Central also struggled all weekend, going 1-2 in pool play (losing to a short-handed Stagg team).

Despite its poor performance in pool play, Naperville Central managed to win the silver division with wins over the Sandburg “JV” and Lincoln-Way East.

◘ The seeds and pairings for the 2008 boys state volleyball tournament were released by the Illinois High School Association last week, and although No. 1 Providence and No. 2 Glenbard East are in opposite brackets, neither team has a free ride to the state finals.

Providence would have to get past Lincoln-Way Central in the sectional semifinals, either No. 6 Sandburg or Marist in the sectional finals and No. 3 Glenbrook North in the quarterfinals just to earn a semifinal berth against defending state champion and No. 4-ranked Wheaton Warrenville South.

All Glenbard East has to do is beat Addison Trail in a sectional semifinal, either Lyons or Hinsdale Central in the sectional final and Neuqua Valley in the state quarterfinals to reach the semifinals against either Buffalo Grove or Warren.

Meanwhile, Brother Rice’s current struggles have created hope among the teams assigned to the Mt. Carmel sectional, particularly No. 2 seed Oak Lawn, which won all three of its matches Saturday at Lincoln-Way East behind Randy Hansen.

Whoever wins the Mt. Carmel sectional would face WW South in the state quarterfinals, providing the defending state champions can get past St. Francis in the sectional finals

◘ George Mason’s Kyle Gramit, a 2005 graduate of Naperville North High School and a former Sun-Times All-Area selection, was named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-America Second Team.

The 6-foot-5 opposite hitter ranked among the nation’s leaders in kills, points, blocks and aces per game. Gramit had 28 kills against New Jersey Institute of Technology and on March 7 led to Patriots to a 3-1 victory over Penn State, handing the 2008 national champions their only loss of the season.

Gramit was the only Illinois player among the 20 All-America selections.

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