Boys Volleyball: McFarland comes up big for L-W North
By Phil Brozynski For Sun-Times Media May 4, 2013 9:34PM
Lincoln-Way North's Brad McFarland is congratulated by mom Jenny, after winning the MVP title in the title match against Minooka Saturday at Lincoln-Way East High School in Frankfort. photo for Sun-Times Media by Jean Lachat
Updated: June 6, 2013 7:29AM
What do you do if your top middle hitter tears his knee playing basketball in gym class? Or your second-leading outside hitter is playing libero to rest his knees for the state tournament? And your 5-foot-10 libero has to move to outside hitter?
If you’re Lincoln-Way North, you get the ball to Brad McFarland.
McFarland had 24 kills, including three in a row to help the Phoenix rally from down match point in the third game, to lead Lincoln-Way North to a 23-25, 25-23, 16-14 victory over Minooka in the championship match of the Lincoln-Way East tournament Saturday in Frankfort.
The 6-foot-2 junior also had the last three kills to break a 22-22 tie in Game 2 and deservedly got the nod as tournament MVP.
“I don’t mind (getting set so much),” McFarland said. “I love being in the spotlight. In the huddle, I told my team I will buy pizza for whoever gets the block at the end of the game. They got the touch, they did what they had to do, our libero dug it and we got the job done.
“Our team motto is, ‘Team go for it,’ ” he added. “If we make a mistake, we smile and say it’s in the past. If I make a mistake, I tell my setter to get the ball to me again and I promise to get the kill. That’s ‘Team go for it.’ Everyone makes mistakes. It’s no big deal.”
Mistakes hurt Lincoln-Way North (29-2) in Game 1. The Phoenix made back-to-back errors to trail 19-15 and prompt a timeout. A McFarland block got Lincoln-Way North even at 23-23, but two more errors put Minooka (28-2) up a set.
The Phoenix trailed early in Game 2, but a pair of kills by Josh Kim (four kills, two aces) gave Lincoln-Way North a 16-13 lead. A kill by 6-6 middle Maalik Walker and a Lincoln-Way North error got the Indians even at 23-23 before McFarland donned his superman cape.
A kill and an ace by Kim gave Lincoln-Way North an early 6-3 lead in Game 3, but Minooka fought back to take a 14-13 advantage on two blocks and a kill by Walker (seven kills, six blocks) and a backrow violation by Lincoln-Way North.
But Lincoln-Way North found McFarland on the next three points to claim bragging rights in the south suburbs.
“They (Minooka) are very big and we knew from the beginning how they smoked East (a 25-23, 25-17 semifinal victory over Lincoln-Way East), so in the back of our minds we knew they were going to come out and really show us their stuff,” said the Phoenix’s Jake Walenga, who donned the libero jersey Saturday.
“So we just kind of looked to stay positive and have fun,” he added.
Walenga contributed 17 digs for Lincoln-Way North, which also got eight kills from libero-turned-outside hitter Zach Blasgen, 15 assists from Austin Faller and 17 assists from Matt Burke.
“We got just a bunch of good kids on the team,” Lincoln-Way North coach Matt Lawrence said. “They’re smart, they’re fun to coach and whatever line-up we go with they’re going to give their best effort. That’s what they did this weekend.”
Matt Svetlecich had seven kills and two aces for Minooka, which also got 19 assists and three blocks from Phil Hannon and four kills from Mitch Perinar.
“The kids are disappointed, but overall to take second this tournament with this level of teams and then to beat Lincoln-Way East as well, that’s something to hang your hat on,” Grzetich said. “Hopefully, the guys won’t hang their heads.”
Lincoln-Way East (28-3), which lost to Minooka 25-23, 25-17 in the semifinals, lost to Lyons (22-3) in the third-place match, 25-17, 25-23.
“We couldn’t pass the ball, and without that we can’t run our offense,” Griffins coach Kris Fiore said. “We don’t have any real big guys who we can just throw the ball to. If we can’t pass the ball to the net, we can’t execute our offense. That was it.”
New Trier (24-6), which lost to Minooka 25-21, 25-13 in the quarterfinals, defeated Lake Park (18-12) 25-17, 25-18 for fifth place.