Boys Volleyball: Oak Forest outlasts Eisenhower
By Logan Malloy For Sun-Times Media April 24, 2014 8:20PM
Updated: May 26, 2014 6:33AM
Oak Forest came into its South Suburban opener Thursday against Eisenhower with a chip on its shoulder.
“(Eisenhower) bounced us out of the Top 10 this week, so that was big bulletin-board material for our guys,” Oak Forest coach Lee Rucinski said.
The Bengals shouldn’t be absent from the list for long.
Jeff Sprayberry had 17 kills and Zach Loeding pitched in his best game of the year as Oak Forest rallied for a 20-25, 25-23, 25-20 victory in a frantic match in Blue Island.
Brett Staehlin distributed 30 assists, while Loeding and Jake Olson had six kills apiece for the Bengals (11-6, 1-0).
Loeding, a 6-foot-5 middle, fired a few lasers and came up with two big kills to help close out Sets 2 and 3.
“This win says you can’t count us out,” said Loeding, who mention talking with captains Sprayberry and Dylan Ross for helping him get out of an early season rut. “They told me I needed to get my stuff together. Now I’m having fun and putting the ball away.”
Robert McCoy led Eisenhower (12-4, 0-1) with eight kills and three blocks. Mike Konczal posted six kills and Khalil Williams had five. Lincoln recruit Alec Esparza was sharp in the back row and setter Lukasz Kupiec caught Oak Forest off guard with four kills.
“Alec Esparza is a really scrappy player, and they’re all tall and can jump,” Sprayberry said of the Cardinals. “It’s a big win. We knew if we lost, there goes winning conference.”
After a slow start, Sprayberry went off in the second set. He notched four kills in a nine-point span and answered Vinny Curta’s kill with consecutive putaways for a 23-20 advantage.
“We didn’t do a good enough job with our serve,” Eisenhower coach Stan Natonek said. “We couldn’t push them into our defense the way we wanted to.”
The third set saw nine ties, the last coming on a Williams kill that knotted it at 17. Loeding responded with a kill, setting up arguably the match’s biggest play, which Staelin won via a joust at the net. Staehlin then posted a block on the next point for a 20-17 lead for Oak Forest.