JOLIET — In their regional final matchup against JCA on Wednesday night, the Minooka Indians boy’s volleyball team received its first scare of the postseason, as the Hillmen took them to three games before losing to the Indians.
In the sectional semifinals Friday night against the Plainfield East Bengals, though, Minooka rounded back into form, thrashing the Bengals 25-13, 25-15 to advance to the sectional final Tuesday night in O’Fallon.
“I don’t know if our motivation was a certain team tonight, just more of what we talked about in practice after the JCA game, and that’s to play for ourselves,” Minooka coach Janel Grzetich said. “We’re just trying to focus on us and play at our highest level, and I thought we did an excellent job of that.”
Minooka dominated from the first point, as players like Maalik Walker, Mitch Perinar, and Matt Svetlecich were able to have their way against a small Plainfield East team. The Indians’ biggest lead during game one was 11, before they were able to ice it away with a kill from junior Justin Toth.
Friday was a big night for Toth, as he started for the Indians for the first time since coming back from his foot injury. He had come off the bench in prior games, which he said threw him off a little bit. But Toth’s 6-9’ frame causes problems for opposing teams up front.
“It felt better to be on the court. I was a lot looser than I usually was, because I had come straight from warmups instead of sitting on the bench and getting cold,” Toth said. “It bothers a lot with the foot when I come in cold.”
“We wanted to get Toth some game time there so he can shake off some of the cob webs and get any nerves out,” Grzetich added.
“His replacement, Luis Guerrero, has done a great job in his absence. We just wanted to get Toth back in it and more involved.”
Game two was the same as game one, as the Indians weathered an early run from the Bengals to pull away with a game two victory. They used a couple five point runs in game two to close out Plainfield East.
The next game for Minooka is Tuesday at the O’Fallon sectional final. It’s going to be a long ride down for the Indians, so it might be difficult for Minooka to keep their energy up for the bus ride down.
“We’ll probably just listen to some music to pump us up a little bit,” Toth said. “We’re getting a coach bus from our athletic director, so that should help a little bit.”
“I’m sure our guys will figure out a way to stay energized for the game,” Grzetich added. “We’re a very loose, quirky team, so I’m sure they’ll find the perfect movie to watch.”