As the student body takes a breather for the final stretch of the school year with spring break this week, the Wildcats hosted Upstate Eight Conference foe the Streamwood Sabres Tuesday evening.
After two games, the Neuqua Valley posted a victory in two going 25-17, 25-11 over Streamwood.
Neuqua Valley hitters Conner Dart and Jon Storm led the way in their physical win. Dart registered four aces, three kills and one dig, while Storm added four kills, two aces and one dig.
Neuqua Valley right side hitter Jake Gerald pitched in three aces, one kill and one dig.
“(Monday’s game) we came out flat and weren’t prepared mentally,” said Neuqua Valley head coach Erich Mendoza. “I like the way (Neuqua Valley) came out today. This game is so mental. What matters is how good you are with the mental game.”
Neuqua Valley pieced together a 16-7 run before Streamwood head coach Lisa Vazzana called a time out in game one. Streamwood would battle back following the timeout once cutting the deficit to six points. These were due to a handful of Neuqua Valley illegal hits and side out shots.
However, the Wildcats maintained their lead in game one and as they bounced in a Dart kill to win by seven. The Wildcats produced 15 kills in game one. Although Neuqua Valley faltered on a few hitting mistakes, Mendoza is not worried.
“We had some plays with hitting errors,” Mendoza said. “I told (the Wildcats) that as long as you’re playing hard they’ll be fine. Mistakes will happen in every game. It didn’t hurt us tonight, but have to be a little tighter on other nights when it is a one or two point game. It could mean winning or losing.”
In game two, Neuqua Valley only allowed two kills, one block and an ace for points from Streamwood.
“We stayed more focused in game two,” said Neuqua Valley senior Zach Gilligan. “We’ve been pretty confident this year. If we’re down we’ve been able to come back, and if we were up we can stay up.”
In the young 2011 season for the Wildcats, they have jumped to a stellar start going 3-1, with their sole loss to Naperville North.
After losing in the sectional semifinals last year, Neuqua Valley senior Drew Antenen and the rest of the Wildcats refuse to repeat history.
“This win is a confidence booster, but we still got to be ready for any team,” Antenen said. “As seniors, knowing it’s our last year, we don’t want to go through losing in sectionals like we did last year. Even though it’s spring break, we got to stay in the (intense) mode and buckle down.”
Streamwood standouts in the loss to the Wildcats were senior outside hitter Ryan Wohlhart with two kills, one block, one ace and a spectacular diving dig, while senior setter Phil Montero pitched in two kills and three digs.
Neuqua Valley enjoys the remainder of their spring break week dormant as they host Bartlett next Tuesday.
“It seems like I’ve already seen improvement from last year,” Mendoza said. “We’re still plugging in people from the two seniors lost (to graduation). We’re missing a couple spots because of the vacation; spring break hurts. We just need to stay prepared mentally.”
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