The last time Sandburg and Lincoln-Way North met in the regular season, North outside hitters Jake Walenga and Brad McFarland teamed up for 32 kills in leading the Phoenix to a thrilling three-set victory.
When the elite programs met Thursday night, the do-everything duo fell short of that kill count, but they were just as lethal.
Walenga notched 19 kills, McFarland had 10 and North seized another wild SouthWest Suburban showdown with a 22-25, 25-19, 25-23 victory.
“They came out fired up and we came out a little too loose from our warmup CD,” Walenga joked.
“But props to their blocking in the first game,” he said. “They really kept rallies alive and terminated when they got the chance.”
Kenny Christensen gave North (14-1, 1-0) a presence at the net with five kills and two blocks. Austin Faller added 30 assists and Jimmy Dusek 21 digs.
Paul Chmura was a surgeon for Sandburg (12-6, 0-1), chalking up five blocks and 17 kills on a variety of shots. Middle hitters Neil Naughton and Kyle Van Stedum had seven kills each, with Naughton adding five blocks and Van Stedum three.
“This is my third year on varsity,” said Chmura, a junior. “All the younger kids look up to me so I don’t want to disappoint anyone. I’ve been playing club with those [North] guys for many years, so I always look forward to playing against them.”
The third set seesawed with six lead changes. Chmura recorded five kills in a seven-point span to give Sandburg a 20-17 advantage, but North’s Scott Dusek turned the tide with two straight aces following a Sandburg service error.
“That was huge,” North coach Matt Lawrence said. “Scott came up big for us in our win against Lincoln-Way East, too.”
A Sandburg attack error and Walenga kill put North up 22-20. The Eagles, though, answered with a block by Van Stedum and kill from Chmura to knot it 22-22.
Kills from McFarland and Sandburg’s Dan Tynski (nine kills) tied it again, but Sandburg fell victim to a service error and North’s Max Lawrence, cousin of coach Matt Lawrence, finished the match with a kill.
“Sandburg played tremendous,” Matt Lawrence said. “We were lucky to get that one. We struggled getting them out of system.”