Boys Volleyball: Eisenhower overwhelms Shepard
By Logan Malloy For Sun-Times Media April 8, 2013 7:50PM
Eisenhower's Mahonri Saldana (left) makes a dig against Shepard's Stephen Szajek during their volleyball game in Palos Heights Monday, April 8, 2013. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 10, 2013 6:26AM
“Pass ... set ... boom.”
That’s how Eisenhower coach Stan Natonek described the quick sets sent from Edgar Hernandez to middle hitter Mahonri Saldana during Monday’s match at Shepard.
Saldana, unmatched in the middle, drilled six kills and two blocks as the Cardinals ripped the host Astros 25-15, 25-16 in South Suburban play.
“(Saldana) can kill against anybody and from anywhere,” Natonek said. “We move him all over the place. And now he’s starting to pick up his jump-serve and getting devastating with that, too. He’s got teams on their heels.”
A returning all-conference selection, Saldana showcased his serve by turning a 6-2 second-set advantage into a 12-2 lead. He delivered two aces during the span, then showed his ability to thunder kills out of a lightning-quick set.
“I was looking for more kills, but I did what I could,” Saldana said. “I like quicker sets just because I’m used to it. Sophomore year they taught me how to use quicks.
“Most of the teams aren’t used to blocking fast because their footwork might not be good. It’s good to throw teams off balance.”
Hernandez added 12 assists and two aces for the Cardinals (9-5, 3-3). Outside hitter Lukasz Kupiec, a main component in Eisenhower’s second-place finish at the Plainfield North Invitational earlier this season, had seven kills and finished the match with a 64 percent hitting clip.
Doug Nelson led Shepard (8-9, 3-3) with three kills and 11 digs, while Kyle Joy, the Astros’ most consistent threat at the net this season, recorded three solo blocks.
“I’m baffled by (our performance),” Shepard coach Joan Alderden said. “We came out with a phenomenal win against Lemont last week, so we were expecting more. But we didn’t show it at all (Monday).
“You can’t take anything away from Eisenhower because they’re a great team. They came to play and they came to win, and that’s what they did.”