NEW LENOX | When Illiana Christian's boys volleyball team showed Lincoln-Way Central it could defend the middle early in Tuesday's playoff match, the Knights simply moved their base of attack outside.
The Knights combined strong finishing combinations with an offensive attack low on unforced errors to propel them to a 25-21, 25-21 victory against the Vikings in the semifinals of the Lincoln-Way Central Regional.
With the win, the Lincoln-Way East Sectional sixth-seeded Knights (23-13) will host second-seed Lincoln-Way East (33-3) in the regional championship match tonight at 7 p.m. The Griffins advanced with a straight-game win against Homewood-Flossmoor in the first semifinal match on Monday.
"We just couldn't find a rhythm," Illiana Christian coach Nikki Van Dyke said. "We played well — don't get me wrong — but we just couldn't get those long runs."
The Vikings (23-11) had early leads in each of the games, but could not sustain their brief advantages against the onslaught of kills by outside hitter Austin Overby (eight kills, one block), and later, middle hitter Clay Hermann (nine kills, one block), whose middle kill off a feed from Matt Clark closed out the match. The Griffins finished the match with nine unforced errors.
The 10th-seeded Vikings were led by senior captain Austin Lindemulder, who had a team-high eight assists and four kills. Kyle Vander Zee had a team-best five kills, while Luke Sikma led the team in blocks with three and Caleb Clausing added a team-high four digs.
In the first match, Homewood-Flossmoor won four of the first five points of the second game, but the Griffins quickly rallied behind outside hitter Nate Royer (seven kills) to get the upper hand midway through the game and close out the win, 25-16, 25-18.
The Vikings (15-17) were led by Wyatt Patterson, who had a team-high four kills and three blocks. Shaquille Lott added three kills and a team-high eight assists, while first-year player Mak Beattie added six assists.
"I think we have high hopes going forward," Homewood-Flossmoor coach Brandon Cotter said. "We are bringing back most of our starters and with a couple of players planning on playing club, this was a good year to get them excited and give them something to build off of."