Robert McCoy, of Eisenhower, kills a shot past the Reavis defense at Reavis, Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 in Burbank. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 8, 2014 6:35AM
There’s a reason Eisenhower opts to huddle on the court instead of the sidelines during a timeout. The Cardinals don’t want anyone near the scorer’s table to overhear what’s being said.
“There’s a lot of yelling and not-so-nice words going on,” Eisenhower coach Stan Natonek said. “Everyone on this team gets challenged. If you let down, someone gets into your face. And that includes me. It’s nice to have that leadership.”
Three-year starter Alec Esparza articulated his thoughts a few times Tuesday night — and also did plenty of talking with his play on the court — in a wild match at Reavis.
Esparza posted 30 digs and two aces as Eisenhower outlasted the Rams 25-20, 23-25, 27-25 in South Suburban play.
“I constantly stay on my teammates,” said Esparza, a Lincoln recruit. “But it’s more so for passing. I’m not a hitter — I’ve never hit in my life. So I talk about passing and tell them to man up and do their job.”
Robert McCoy controlled the net with 14 kills and three blocks while Vinny Curta chipped in 13 kills for Eisenhower (17-8, 2-1), which avenged a loss to Reavis on April 26 at the Smack Attack.
Abdalrhman Ishtiah recorded seven kills and a block for Reavis (10-11, 2-1). Rafal Slomba had five kills and David Kasprzak four.
Eisenhower — with McCoy and Curta — had the aerial firepower, but Reavis absorbed big hits the entire match and kept pushing through.
“We scrap,” Reavis coach Bob Wielgos said. “Defense is what’s going to help us win.”
In Set 3, Eisenhower took a 5-0 lead after a block from McCoy, but Reavis wouldn’t go away. The Rams tied it at 17 on a kill by Ishtiah, who had a vicious put away earlier in the set to bring Reavis to within two. Three points later, Reavis was up 20-17 on Slomba’s rip down the line.
“When we get the ball to Matt Sammon, very few teams can stop us,” Wielgos said. “The problem is getting the ball to the setter.”
Reavis took a 25-24 advantage on an Eisenhower miscue, but the Cardinals put the match away with three straight points. Mike Konczal went off a blocker, Reavis was whistled for two hits and McCoy put down kill No. 14.
“Eisenhower is a sweet team,” Wielgos said. “That guy (McCoy) in the middle, he’s a beast.”
Khalil Williams came up big with five third-set kills for Eisenhower.