Palatine Rebounds to Top Hoffman in Three
Esbrook, Bill, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Bill Esbrook Daily Herald Correspondent
Not many people expected Palatine or Hoffman Estates to be 1-0 in the Mid-Suburban West going into Thursday night's boys volleyball match on the Pirates home floor.
Both teams had faced daunting tasks in their West openers, but both rose to the challenge as Palatine rallied to defeat Fremd and the Hawks came back to beat Barrington.
The Vikings and Broncos had tied for the division title last year with identical 9-1 records.
"We've been working hard," said Hoffman coach Dan Hutton, "and came in off a big conference win. We're a young team - 9 of our 12 players were on JV last year - and anytime you can come in (to the next match) off an MSL win, you're excited to play."
The Hawks started strong at Palatine and grabbed Game 1, but the Pirates blocked Hoffman's path to victory with superior blocking in Games 2 and 3.
Palatine seniors Josh Rustman (6 blocks), Bart Danczuk (5 blocks) and Ronny Lampen (5 blocks) dominated the last two games at the net in a 23-25, 25-15, 25-16 Palatine win.
"They blocked everything," said senior Max Martin, who led Hoffman with 6 kills on 32-of-42 hitting.
"They couldn't get anything over the net," agreed first-year Palatine coach Frank Stark," which was obviously nice for us."
Martin and classmate Tyler Davis were superb in Game 1, which went to Hoffman on a Martin kill from a Steve Anderson set.
"We've been starting flat," said Stark. "It was the same way in the match against Fremd (where Palatine also lost Game 1)."
"I'm not sure what the problem is, but I told the guys that could come back to haunt us at the end of the season."
Then Hoffman, which had looked so sharp in the first game, seemed out of synch at times in Game 2 as Palatine (6-4, 2-0) ran off 12 of the last 13 game points to tie the match.
Then Rustman set the tone in Game 3 with 3 early block kills.
"We were definitely frustrated after the first game," said the 6-foot-10 senior. "We talked about it afterwards and got ourselves ready to go.
"Coach (Stark) told us that most of their sets were going to go to No. …