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posted: 3/26/2010 12:01 AM

Young Libertyville shows promise despite loss

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  • Libertyville's Stefan Vidovich drives the ball as New Trier's T.J. Keene (21) and Bennett Wakenight defend during action Thursday night. New Trier won 25-21, 27-25.

      Libertyville's Stefan Vidovich drives the ball as New Trier's T.J. Keene (21) and Bennett Wakenight defend during action Thursday night. New Trier won 25-21, 27-25.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer


Ready ... set... go.

And go.

And go.

Call it a set that sets you apart.

Libertyville's promising-but-young boys volleyball team might have displayed both its youthful energy and inexperience all on one play during its season-opening, 25-21, 27-25 loss to visiting New Trier on Thursday night.

During one sequence, the Wildcats attempted a set and the ball kept soaring. It soared so high that it actually hit the gym-wall divider.

At least it didn't rattle a light.

"It was like, 'Holy cow, do you think the tempo is too high?' " Wildcats coach Steve Rochon said. "I've never seen that in 17-18 years."

Libertyville is coming off a 27-win season, but this year the Wildcats have a roster that consists of only four seniors, nine juniors and two sophomores. They graduated five starters and a ton of talented players.

"I miss those kids," said senior middle hitter Dan Nield, the only starter back. "We had a lot of good seniors last year."

Rochon expects growing pains this spring.

"We're going to make sophomore mistakes at the varsity level," he said.

Against New Trier (2-0), the Wildcats' serving errors served as a prime example. The Trevians scored 7 of their points in Game 1 on Libertyville serves that didn't land inbounds. That happened four more times in the second game.

"It's going to be like that for a while," Rochon said. "But I've got enough confidence in these guys that I think the effort is going to be there. We'll (make mistakes) through April, but I don't think we'll do that in May."

Nield is confident that will be the case.

"It may look like we're starting slow," Nield said. "But I guarantee you that by May we'll be dominant."

Libertyville certainly had its moments against New Trier, which opened its season by beating Stevenson.

The Wildcats were up 20-15 in the first game and enjoyed leads of 12-6 and 22-19 in Game 2.

While they struggled serving, they also had their problems handling serves. The Trevians jump-served often.

"Serving is a strength of ours this year," New Trier coach Sue Haak said. "It helps our blocking, and it helps everything kind of come together."

"To be honest," Nield said, "we've had problems with serves in the practices. But we're working on them and I think, actually, even though we lost, this was a pretty solid first game. Aside from the service errors, we played well. Our passing was pretty solid, our blocking was pretty solid, and our block coverage was pretty solid all around."

Nield, Eric Banduch and Stefan Vidovich each had 3 kills for Libertyville. Eric Handrich piled up 13 setting assists, 3 blocks and 2 kills. Andrew Bitta served 3 aces.

New Trier was led by Bennett Wakenight's 7 blocks and 2 kills, Michael Schroeder's 6 kills and Kyle Cook's 4 kills and 4 blocks.

"It wasn't our best play," Haak said.

"But I was really proud of how the guys fought under pressure. It was our first away game, and the score was tight. They kept fighting."