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Blocked out : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
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Panthers sweep Wolves in two games, improve to 2-1 in SPC play

by Kristin Sharp


The Oswego East boys' volleyball team kept up with host Oswego during Tuesday's Southwest Prairie Conference meeting.

In the end, the Panthers were the more consistent team and clinched the 25-15, 25-21 victory over the Wolves. With the win, Oswego improves to 6-8 overall and 2-1 in SPC play while Oswego East moves to 4-8 on the season and 1-2 in the conference.

Despite the two-game sweep, Oswego head coach Zach Splitt was still critical of his squad. Oswego went on a 10-4 run to end Game 1, and took a 4-1 lead on Oswego East in Game 2, but allowed Oswego East to threaten a Game 3 tiebreaker.

"We're struggling to find that mental focus and mental intensity and sense of urgency at times," Splitt said. "Certainly not taking anything away from what Oswego East did to us tonight and speaking more on what Eisenhower was able to do to us (on Monday), we're able to get on top of just about any team and then we take our foot off the gas. That team does what they need to do to turn things around and catch us off guard.

"Oswego East made some really good changes in the second game and we had to regroup a couple times and have a few gut checks to make sure we were still executing."

Oswego opened Game 1 with strong serving from senior Hunter Bowman to build a 5-1 lead, but Oswego East senior Zach Maroney and sophomore Adam Densberger (nine kills) landed early kills to keep the Wolves within striking distance, trailing 5-4. Densberger would add two more attacks to cut Oswego's lead to 11-9.

Holding a 15-11 lead, Oswego rallied to score 10 of the next 14 points for the victory. Oswego junior Zach Aceret secured a pair of late kills during the run and Oswego East committed two errors down the stretch.

"Our biggest thing is consistency. When our passing gets away from us, our serve-receiving gets away from us, that's when we struggle with our offense," Oswego East head coach Noel Soto said. "Until we get consistent throughout the game, we can't really say we're there yet. We're getting closer though. I'm proud of the guys; they kept fighting. Last year, they would have packed it up after that first game. This team has grown so much and I'm so proud of them. They keep pushing every day at practice and keep putting it to good use."

Oswego East struggled at the start of Game 2 and fell behind 3-0 before Maroney's kill gave the Wolves a much-needed sideout. Oswego East responded at the net as juniors Nick Richard and Shane Bara combined for a block. Senior John Stark used his 6-foot-11 frame to tip the ball over for a point and a 5-3 lead. Stark played a big factor at the net for Oswego in Game 2.

"John is a sponge and picking up on all the little elements. It's easy for a guy like him to be a one-dimensional player and block and kill, but he's adding as many elements to his game as I'm asking him to. He's adjusting a lot more. the biggest thing is his mobility and making himself available."

Densberger's attack put Oswego East within one, and an Oswego error created the first of nine ties on the scoreboard. Following Maroney's kill, Oswego East took a brief 9-8 lead - its first lead over Oswego in the match - but Richard's attack found the Wolves' floor and Oswego pulled ahead 15-14 - never trailing again.

Densberger scored two more points for the Wolves, and Maroney was good for two more, but Oswego still held an 18-17 lead.

"When we get a good pass and Jonathan (Bornemann) can give them a good set, they can put them down," Soto said. "Adam isn't playing like a sophomore. He's stepping up big for us. Zach has been Zach all season; he swings away. He keeps firing away. As long as we get that serve-receive and get that first pass, we can run our system. Until we get consistent with that, I don't think we're going to get consistent on the court. We'll keep working at it and come back strong."

Richard's hard hit went unanswered and Stark recorded another tip kill before the Panthers blocked a Wolves shot, prompting an Oswego East timeout with the Wolves trailing 21-18.

Oswego committed two errors after the break, but an Oswego East serving error gave the Panthers a sideout and Bara came up with the kill and an ensuing block for a 24-20 score.

Bara's next kill landed just outside the line, but on his next attempt, Bara found the Wolves' floor for the 25-21 win in Game 2.

Oswego resumes SPC play today, Thursday, at home against Plainfield Central at 5:30 p.m. before visiting Minooka next Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

Oswego East notes: Oswego East will travel to Romeoville at 5:30 p.m. before visiting Plainfield Central next Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

The Wolves defeated Joliet Central 25-22, 25-21 on April 9. Maroney had eight kills and Bornemann made 16 assists. Senior Justice McGhee had 21 digs and two aces, including the final one for the match.

Oswego East could not string together a third straight win, falling to Plainfield North 8-25, 4-25, last Thursday.

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