CHICAGO HEIGHTS | The game will become notably more difficult tonight for the boys volleyball teams of Marian Catholic and Illiana Christian.
Monday night, the Spartans and the Vikings won their respective first-round playoff matches in the Marian Catholic Regional. The 13th-seeded Spartans defeated 20th-seeded Thornton Fractional 25-5, 25-8, while the 12th-seeded Vikings beat 21st-seeded Brooks in equally easy fashion 25-11, 25-5.
The Spartans (15-16) will face the sectional's fourth seed, Providence Catholic, in one regional semifinal game, while the Vikings (18-18) will go up against fifth-seeded Lincoln-Way North. Despite the seed disparities in the semifinals matches, the Spartans and the Vikings both believe they have a shot of advancing to Wednesday night's regional championship match.
The Vikings lost to Lincoln-Way North in two contested games in their first match of the season.
"(Lincon-Way North) is definitely beatable," said Viking senior setter Dale Krygier, who contributed six assists and a block in limited action. "If we play on top of our game, I believe we could come out with the win."
Starter Kyle Vander Zee added five kills and an ace and starter Paul Biegel had three kills with two blocks. Junior setter Austin Lindemulder came off the bench to make 12 assists and serve an ace, while Kurt Bultema added six kills for the Vikings.
"It was nice to get everybody in; I have 13 great individuals who can play the game of volleyball," Vikings coach Nikki Van Dyke said. "We are probably one of the most talented teams we've had at Illiana."
The Spartans have not had a chance to face Providence this season. Senior setter Jay Hochstetler, however, is familiar with the Celtics from club play, and said he knows what it will take to advance to the championship game.
"We have the talent to contend with them," said Hochstetler, from Crete. "You've got to control Marty Ross. He is their big player, and you can't stop him, but you have got to try to control him."
Hochstetler made 12 assists and served seven aces in Monday's win. Spartans teammates Will Craft and Daniel Zaklan each added four kills. Thornton Fractional (2-24-1) was led by Allen White, who had six digs, and Darrius Washington, who added four digs and a kill.
"I think it looks good for the future," Thornton Fractional coach Peg Haney said. "I don't have a senior here. We didn't show our best today, but I'm thinking we should have some positives coming into next season."