The Glenbard West boys volleyball team invited visiting Whitney Young of Chicago to stay for a postgame meal after the Hilltoppers prevailed in two games, 26-24 and 25-16, Thursday night at Biester Gym.
What aided the digestion of the 2-0 Hilltoppers was not only the victory but the way the young team has come together quickly with so many new faces on the roster.
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"There are only three seniors this year. We lost eight seniors and seven starters from last season," said Glenbard West coach Christine Giunta-Mayer. "The kids are very disciplined. They are workhorses and such coachable kids."
She said the Hilltoppers needed to work on serving before going up against the Dolphins, who were opening their season against Glenbard West. The extra practice paid off in 5 service aces for the match, including three that came in handy in Game 1 against their very aggressive opponent that regularly averages over 20 wins a year and has won six straight regional titles.
In that first game Glenbard West led by as much as six when Jackson Nagle's kill made it 12-6. Later on, the Hilltoppers led by five twice, 22-17 and 23-18. A hitting error by the Dolphins put Glenbard West up 24-20 and it looked like Game 1 would be in the history books soon.
The biggest challenge for the Hilltoppers defense all night was Whitney Young's Tom Wesolowski, who finished with a game-high 13 kills. Two kills by him and a double block with teammate Noah Staton tied the game at 24.
A serving error by the Dolphins followed by a double block for Glenbard West from Johnny Davis and Galen Horvath secured the win for Glenbard West.
"We're more of a defensive team. We're a different team (than past teams) and we'll win in different ways," senior Jacob Stone said.
Glenbard West grabbed the reins of the Game 2 and never let go. With Alec Garwood serving the Hilltoppers racked up 10 straight points to take a commanding 14-3 lead. Whitney Young did cut the lead to seven later on but never seriously threatened.
"I thought we matched up well against Glenbard West except for that run in the second game," said Dolphins coach Megan Gordon.
Leading the way for Glenbard West were Parker Swartz with 6 kills and Horvath with 4. Garwood and Kee Gales each had eight assists. Andrew Roberts had 8 digs with Garwood and Sean Dedmond each with 5.
The Hilltoppers are just two years removed from a fourth-place finish in state. This team, which resumes play after spring break April 2 at Oak Park-River Forest, is hungry to continue that excellence.
"Everyone works hard and worked hard in the off-season. We want to keep it rolling. We're shooting for state," Stone said.