There was an air of playoff anticipation covering the court like a blanket as the Newtonbrook North Stars defeated the Mackenzie Lyons 2-0 in quarterfinal boys volleyball action.
Utilizing the strong net play of Jamie Galka and Farbod Talaiyan, the north region’s top seed moved into the semifinals Nov. 5, winning in straight sets 25-20, 25-22.
In the first, the North Stars shot out to a 5-1 lead, but the Lyons managed to cut the deficit to 9-7.
Newtonbrook’s Galka and Talaiyan stamped out the comeback with a combination of power and agility at the net.
Talaiyan said the first set was his squad’s top performance because they executed on all the fundamentals of the game.
“I think that the first set was the best of the two,” Talaiyan said. “We dug up the balls, we hit well and we didn’t get complacent.”
Head coach Mia Kim agreed.
She said Newtonbrook’s overall game was adequate but, more importantly, her team managed to neutralize the Lyons’ dominant power man, Cressan Genus.
Genus is a big man who hits with brawn from the backcourt.
Although he got his licks in, Newtonbrook managed to limit his influence by getting off the net and preparing to return.
“I told them that when (Genus) gets set in back court, they have to peel off the net like it’s a free ball and only put up one blocker,” Kim said. “His ball was hard hit but it was a roll shot, so it dropped fast.”
In the second set, the Lyons vaulted out to a 7-2 lead, reversing the tone set in the first.
Genus dominated early by pounding the ball with tremendous velocity. The result sent Newtonbrook scrambling.
“When (the team) gets behind, they get a little frantic,” Kim said.
There was no cause for concern for Talaiyan, as it was familiar territory.
“I wasn’t worried because we’ve been in that situation before,” he said. “We just had to get moving around and start calling for the ball.”
Newtonbrook eventually evened the game at 16 and pulled ahead for the first time after Mackenzie faulted on a serve.
The Lyons led 22-20, but with Genus as their only legitimate threat, his petering out in the set did Mackenzie in.
The North Stars rallied for five consecutive points to move on to the next round.
“Whenever you come back, it feels pretty good, especially when you’re down in such a big game,” Galka said. “It wasn’t one of our best games, we could have played better, but I’m happy how it turned out.”
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