After a kill by 6-foot-6 middle blocker Chase Olson allowed Naperville North to fight off one match point down 24-22 in the third set of the Huskies’ DuPage Valley Conference showdown Tuesday against visiting Wheaton North, Darius Baginskis went back to the service line.
The junior libero’s first float serve forced Wheaton North out of system, and a dump kill by Naperville North setter Connor Wojcik pulled the Huskies even at 24-24. Baginskis’ next serve floated over the head of Wheaton North libero Nick Sinn and fell just inside the end line to give the hosts a 25-24 lead.
Baginskis put his third serve into play with little drama, but when Wheaton North put a kill attempt low into the net, Naperville North walked off the court celebrating its 25-20, 25-27, 26-24 victory.
“The emotions are crazy,” Naperville North’s 5-9 junior outside hitter John Jaworski said. “Even though we were down in the third set, everyone still believed. When the coach (Nate Bornancin) called timeout (with the Huskies trailing 24-22), he still had hope in us.
“Darius Baginskis went back and nailed two great serves,” Jaworski added. “I’m really happy about that.”
Meanwhile, Wheaton North (14-4, 1-1 in the DuPage Valley Conference) struggled at the service line. Game 1 ended on a Wheaton North service error, and after a blast off the block by 6-7 junior outside hitter Benett Schreiner gave the Falcons a 21-20 lead in the third set, a service error allowed the Huskies to pull even.
“Those guys never had a game like that,” Wheaton North coach John Noe IV said abut his error-plagued jump-servers. “They proved themselves time and time again. The team supports them. I support them. We just kind of kept waiting for them to click.
“They clicked in the second set and really helped us there,” he added. “But when your two big guns keep going error, error, error from behind the line … you have to make plays on a night like this. We felt like Naperville North made their plays. We were up and down.
“We just got caught on the downside there at the end.”
Baginskis’ late heroics and Wheaton North’s woes at the service line almost overshadowed a 14-kill, 9-block effort by Olson, a Benedictine University recruit.
“Chase has had a couple of matches back-to-back where he’s taken over at the net,” Naperville North coach Nate Bornancin said. “It’s very impressive to see the transformation he’s made the last two years from a former basketball player to a dynamic middle.
“He can score out of three rotations no matter where we put him,” Bornancin added. “We can count on him that when we get him the ball, he’s going to do something nice with it.”
Jaworski, one of just three Huskies who saw playing time on the varsity a season ago, added 11 kills, 8 digs and 3 aces for Naperville North (11-10, 1-1 in the DVC).
“A lot of people did not believe in us (at the beginning of the year),” he said. “This helps our confidence even more. Wheaton North is a super good team. This just boosts our confidence to the next level. If we can beat Wheaton North, we can beat anyone.”
Schreiner led Wheaton North with 13 kills and 6-7 middle blocker Daniel Duggan had 12 kills and 3 blocks.
“If there is one word, it’s consistency,” Noe said. “We had moments where we looked like what were used to and we felt great and were riding high, and then Naperville North found an answer for us and it took some points to climb back out of that.
“Just that up-and-down wave,” he added. “We felt like we were riding that all night.”