Wheaton Warrenville South High School started the school year in the national spotlight when its football team played in front of ESPN2's cameras in the 2011 ESPN High School Kickoff, which the school lost.
But the school more than made up for that and is back in ESPN's limelight for the boys volleyball team's achievements.
ESPNHS awarded the team with the Powerade Fab 50 Trophy on Friday night in the school's gymnasium during an assembly recognizing the team's listing atop the Powerade Fab 50, a weekly ranking of the nation's high school sports teams compiled by ESPNHS.
The award is rightly deserved -- the team became the first Illinois boys volleyball team to end the season No. 1 in the nation after an undefeated 42-0 season. The Tigers completed their perfect run with a 25-21, 25-13 triumph over Glenbrook North High School at the state championship earlier this month.
"They definitely are a multitalented team. They have very solid outside hitters, plus an explosive attack in the middle, and run a very fast offense," ESPN's Kirstin Olsen said. "They are special because they were undefeated this year and beat every team that they played in every tournament and every game, which is pretty amazing for the state of Illinois."
The boys are also champions in the Buffalo Grove Bison Battle, Wheaton Warrenville South Tiger Classic, Downers Grove South Mustang Invite, Oak Lawn Richards Invitational and the IHSA State final.
The national ranking came as a surprise even to the team members.
"We kind of came into it thinking that we had to really work our hardest to even get to where we want to be, and I would have never guessed that it would have gotten this far," Ryan McCarthy said. "I thought that we were going to at least lose once, but we've turned out to take it all."
Coach Bill Schreier said the team's presence grew throughout the season and helped them land the national title.
"I think that they were very understanding of the moment and being in the moment and not getting too far in front of themselves," he said. "They knew that they were a good team, but they also knew that a good team could get derailed at any point in time."
And what made the team unique, Schreier said, was their ability to see the bigger picture.
"This group was so compassionate about things and understanding the big picture and where they're at within the school, the community, volleyball," he said. "To be the first team to be able to bring a national championship is pretty cool. It's a great experience for them, but it's really all the other stuff -- it's the compassion piece and everything else."