CHICAGO HEIGHTS | Illiana Christian senior volleyball player Kyle Vander Zee described the process of getting back to top form after a nearly two-week spring break as brushing the rust off.
Friday night at Marian Catholic High School, there certainly was rust in the mechanics on both sides of the court, at times, but in the end, the Vikings managed to rally to brush off the Spartans in a nonconference match, 17-25, 25-23, 25-23.
"Last year, we lost in three to (Marian Catholic), so with us having a lot of returning seniors, there was a lot of wanting revenge for that," said Vander Zee, who led the Vikings with 10 kills and nine digs. "During timeouts, just talking among the seniors made you ready to play."
The Spartans (3-8) had the upper hand for most of the third game, and led by as much as four-points midway through the deciding game. The Vikings (4-3) took advantage of unforced errors by the Spartans, however, to draw even at 17 and pull ahead 23-21 before a put-away by Vander Zee slipped through the hands of a Spartans defender to close out the match.
The Vikings actually were in danger of being knocked out in two games. The Spartans rallied from a five-point deficit in the second game to grab the lead, 19-18, on a kill by Will Craft. The Vikings stemmed the Spartan's momentum, however, by winning five of the next six points, then drew even at a game apiece when a Spartan serve went long to close out the second game.
Vikings coach Nikki Van Dyke played all of her players during Friday's win. They managed the win despite nine unforced service errors, a statistic that was exceeded by the Spartans, which had 13 unforced service errors.
"When you take a week and a half off for spring break, you lose repetition," Van Dyke said. "You lose timing, also. A lot of teams will be doing two-a-days during spring break, but we don't touch a ball... During that time, we've got kids going on mission trips, which are really needed, but it's a lot to build back from."
Vikings setter Austin Lindemulder had 17 assists Friday, while senior Mark Tiemersma contributed five kills and Caleb Clausing added seven digs. Craft led the Spartans with 17 kills and three service aces, while Jason Kint added five kills and two service aces. Spartan setter contributed 27 assists in defeat.
"We let down a little bit mentally," Spartans coach Bob Piekarski said. "It's a learning curve and we are making progress. We had a lot of good blocks and hits, but we had a lot of unforced errors that we should not have had."