By: Luke Drase
Maine East took care of business on Thursday evening, defeating Glenbrook North for the second time this season, 27-25, 25-16 and improving their conference record to 6-2.
Both teams got out to an extremely clean start in set one. Neither team made many errors, and in system passing led to attack chances for both squads.
But the overarching theme of set one wasn’t a strong attacking presence from both team, but rather, a series of runs that kept the opening set a tight affair.
Maine East jumped out to a 7-4 lead but GBN bounced right back to tie the set at seven a piece. The Blue Demons would go on another 5-0 run to give them a 14-10 advantage, but the Spartans would respond yet again.
This pattern of Maine East taking a lead, and GBN managing to tie it up continued for much of the set, but deviated from the norm when both teams were tied at 22.
Glenbrook North finally broke through to take their first lead of the set at 23-22. The Spartans also had two set points, but just like last week’s match against Highland Park, Maine East showed resilience, winning some extremely long rallies to swing the match back in their favor and take the opening set 27-25.
“I think they’re getting a little bit more comfortable playing in tight matches, but we tend to throw leads away and get too comfortable with where we’re at and before you know it it’s a two point game and they’re looking pretty nervous” said Maine East coach Kevin Bohn.
“With all the three set games we’ve had this year it’s finally sinking in for them that we can hang with a lot of these teams, we can finish matches. We just have to play clean and keep our energy level up.”
One of those players who keeps the energy levels up and seems to be gaining confidence at the right time, is senior outside hitter Alexis Ponzio.
Despite not playing all the way around, Ponzio played extremely well for the Blue Demons in their win, keeping the Spartan defense guessing with a wide variety of shots, leading to her team high five kills.
“We were really prepared today. I was really excited because I wanted to win and I know these games are important to us in order to take conference,” said Ponzio. “Even when I’m on the bench I try to be loud and active as if I’m in the game and that really helped me get going today.
Bohn said: She’s been working on different angles and finding either aggressive line shots or hard cut shots. She doesn’t get very high, she’s not someone who tends to put balls away but she’s been smarter and finding ways to get kills which is great for us to see confidence from her.”
With Ponzio, the defense, and the rest of the front line playing well, Maine East ramped up their play in set two.
Although GBN initially kept the game close, Maine East opened the floodgates midway through the set, going on a 15-3 run to give them a huge 19-7 lead.
GBN did settle down and made some plays late in the set to cut into the Maine East lead which prompted a precautionary timeout by Coach Bohn, but the end result was never in doubt as a Erika Christiansen block finished off the set 25-16 to take the match.
With the win, Maine East still remains in the CSL North title race, their next conference match is on Tuesday as they travel to Vernon Hills while GBN will travel to Des Plaines to take on Maine West.