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Published: November 10, 2009 11:03 pm

BOYS VOLLEYBALL: GI’s run ends against Eden

By Tim Schmitt
Niagara Gazette

HAMBURG — The Grand Island boys volleyball team knew it had an uphill battle against top-seeded Eden in Tuesday’s Section VI Class B championship. Losing its head coach before the night’s first serve didn’t help that climb.

Head coach Bill Schultz had a reaction to shoulder surgery earlier in the day and couldn’t attend the match. That left modified coach and varsity assistant Shaun Quinn at the helm for the first time, facing a program that’s won 28 of the last 32 sectional crowns.

Schultz might not have made much difference. Despite having the best hitter in the class in senior Jonas Stalyga, the Vikings were outclassed by an Eden team that minimized Stalyga’s impact in a 25-18, 25-22, 25-18 win at Hamburg High School.

“I was nervous. I didn’t want the kids to see that come through,” Quinn said. “I wanted to stay as positive as I could. We definitely got the momentum in the second game, but that momentum slipped away and it’s hard to get back against a team as solid as Eden.”

If not for some serving errors, the Raiders might have walked to a more comfortable win in the opening game. Stalyga did manage some big hits to make it close and Tyler Hinaman hit two rocket serves that pulled Grand Island back to 24-18. The junior’s third serve caught the net, though, and Eden (15-6) rolled to the win.

The second game was much more contested, as Stalyga put together an incredible roll to rally GI from a 9-3 deficit. The 6-foot-6 senior had four huge spikes to get the Vikings back within one at 14-13. Justin Waldorf and captain Matt Meyer rolled off important kills, though, and Meyer finished the game off with another big hit.

In the final game, the Vikings fell behind before Nick Alizadeh had a huge hit in the middle that pulled the score to 18-16. That’s as close as the Vikings would get, however, as Meyer answered quickly with a kill that put the Raiders back in control. Stalyga finished with 14 kills and Hinaman had 20 assists.

“We scored a lot of points when Jonas was in the back row. He’s a difference-maker, a guy who can play with anyone in Western New York, but I thought the overall game, if we could wear them down with tough serving, and we did, we we’re going to come out in the end,” Eden coach Robert Pierce said. “We’re not a team that blows people out. We wear teams down, we’re not afraid to go best-of-five with people.”

Although the Vikings boast a young roster, they do lose Stalyga, who is clearly the program’s go-to guy. That might make repeating a run to the final game — something Grand Island hadn’t done since 1999 — difficult in the future.

“It’s been a good run,” senior Jared Northrup said. “We had some good games and some bad ones, but in the end, this was pretty fun