A tough week ended for the Wheaton Warrenville South boys volleyball team with a tough three-game loss in the seventh-place match of the Tiger Classic Invitational on Saturday night.
When Downers Grove South outlasted the host Tigers 22-25, 25-18, 25-22, WW South had gone 0-3 for the day in Gold Pool play to settle for eighth place in the loaded, 24-team invite. Glenbrook North, which opened Saturday with a defeat of the Tigers, claimed the championship after knocking off Ohio power Hilliard Darby.
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The young Tigers, meanwhile, suffered an undisclosed team tragedy earlier in the week and now find themselves sitting at 4-7 on the season after completing a perfect 2011-12 campaign with a seventh state title.
After pulling out a tight opener in their final match Saturday, the Tigers couldn't finish the deal against a Mustangs squad that had swept them earlier this spring. With Will Tischler and John Hanek each recording 6 kills and Tyler Zowaski leading an inspired defense, Downers Grove South closed its tourney play strong.
Trailing 20-18 in the decisive third game, the Tigers did draw even at 20-20, but Downers Grove South finished the game and the match with Mike Schmitt's tip over the block falling to the floor for match point.
"We've go to work on staying in the system and we need to play our game," said Wheaton Warrenville South senior setter Rickie Planek, who admitted that this week's events have been hard on the team. "That was hard to get through, but we need to get through it. Plus winning would help us all get through it."
The Tigers did earn their way into the Gold Pool on Saturday by knocking off Naperville Central and Waubonsie Valley on Friday night, but Saturday's competition against Glenbrook North, Lincoln-Way East and Downers South (4-3) let them know they have a ways to go before hoping to make yet another long playoff run.
Even so, 15th-year coach Bill Schreier expects the Tigers to be a tough out later this season.
"We lost a lot of guys last year and we have some young guys this year, but we know we can do it," he said. "We've just got to get to that level where we are all confident."
Jared Wilcox paced the Tigers with 10 kills against the Mustangs, while Greg Vlassov added 8 kills.
Neuqua Valley won the Silver Pool to finish ninth overall at the Tiger Classic.