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On the right track : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
On the right track
After 30 straight SPC losses, Oswego East volleyball defeats Plainfield East

by Kristin Sharp


If the Oswego East boys' volleyball team wanted to end its lengthy losing streak in Southwest Prairie Conference play, the Wolves needed to play strong from the opening serve.

Oswego East (3-7) did just that, rolling out to a 20-6 lead over visiting Plainfield East on Tuesday in the SPC opener and clinched a 25-7, 25-23 victory over the Bengals to start 1-0 in the league.

The conference win ends a 30-game losing streak in conference play, dating back to the 2011 season.

"They finally started playing with consistency," Oswego East head coach Noel Soto said. "Our serves were in and the passing was the best it has been all season. We were inside the 10-foot and hitting their target. Our hitters got into a rhythm too. I knew the second game they were really going to come after us; they're too good of a team not to. They really pushed us and I'm really proud of the way our team responded. We fell behind, but they didn't start getting down on themselves. They picked each other up and played the way they did in the first game. It made a big difference. This is really going to be good for their confidence. The drought is over."

After Oswego East cruised to a 14-point lead in Game 1, the teams exchanged points on a pair of errors before Plainfield East added two more miscues for a 23-7 lead. Oswego East senior outside hitter Zach Maroney aced his next serve, and Plainfield East's next attack landed in the Bengals' net to end the game.

"It was all about the focus. We came in and expected to play our game," Maroney said. "We came in the same intensity we've had the last few days at practice and it paid off."

Plainfield East regrouped before Game 2, however, and played point for point with Oswego East until the final whistle. Maroney opened the game with a kill, but the Wolves committed three errors and eventually fell behind 6-5 before Soto called a timeout.

Oswego East senior Beau Bruecher scored the next point, but Plainfield East maintained an 11-8 lead before Maroney's kill gave the Wolves a sideout and put junior setter Jonathan Bornemann back to serve.

Bornemann's accuracy behind the service line helped spark an 8-0 run thanks to three aces and a strong defensive play by senior libero Justice McGhee. Oswego East junior Anthony Peeks stepped up with a pair of kills for a 17-13 lead, but two errant digs on the Wolves allowed Plainfield East to keep pace on the scoreboard.

The Bengals used an ace serve to pull within one, 20-19, and Oswego East committed an error in the front row to tie the game. Maroney connected on a kill and the Bengals made three late errors for a 24-21 score.

"Our coaches told us we need to play our game. It was pretty simple; be the Wolves we know we can be. It gave us a lot of confidence."

Plainfield East kept the match alive with a well-placed kill and Oswego East's next attack sailed out of bounds for a 24-23 score. Following a Wolves' timeout, Bruecher sent a kill over the net, and the Bengals' block attempt landed out of bounds to seal the Wolves' long-awaited conference victory.

"In that last huddle, coach was just telling us that we've gotten this far by playing our way and to finish this game, we didn't need anything new; we just had to come out and play the solid volleyball we've been playing for the last two weeks. If we did that, we'd win in the end and that's what we did."

Oswego East returned to its home court on Wednesday to host Joliet Central, but results were unavailable at press time. The Wolves visit Plainfield North today, Thursday, at 5:30 p.m. before traveling to Oswego on Tuesday for a 5:30 p.m. crosstown match.

"They're starting to get comfortable in each other and believe and trust in each other," Soto said. "After the Saturday we had at the West Aurora Invite, they really responded the way I wanted them to. We had a good practice on Monday and they responded. We made a couple adjustments and it paid off."

Notes: Oswego East finished 0-4 at the West Aurora Invite last Saturday. The Wolves opened with a 7-25, 9-25 loss to St. Charles North and a 9-25, 15-25 loss to West Aurora to move into the Bronze Bracket. There, the Wolves lost to Wheeling 20-25, 23-25 and Joliet Central 23-25, 25-27.

"St. Charles North has a really good team - they were in the state semifinals last year - and he just reloaded. He's got some really good guys on that team. West Aurora is young, but they have some good hitters as well," Soto said. "Our guys were a little bit shell-shocked. We woke up in the afternoon, but we just couldn't sustain and we weren't consistent with our play. In the two games against Wheeling and the two against Joliet Central, we had at least a five-point lead in each one. We just couldn't finish them off."

Last Thursday, Oswego East lost to Larkin last Thursday, 17-25, 18-25. Sophomore Adam Densberger finished with four kills and Bruecher made four kills.

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