Boys Volleyball -- Wheaton Warrenville South Tiger Classic Championship
Wheaton Warrenville South boys volleyball coach Bill Schreier had a vision years ago of creating a tournament that would showcase all of the top talent in Illinois.
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His vision led to the Tiger Classic, which seems to be getting stronger by the year. The tourney is helped by the fact Schreier coaches a team with a record seven state titles, including one to cap a 42-0 season which garnered the Tigers ESPN's mythical national championship. The tournament is much more than just Wheaton South.
Saturday's championship will be featured on the CN100 Game of the Week which will air the match at Noon and 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 31. Visit cn100.tv for additional air times.
"This is what I envisioned years ago, to have one of the best tourneys in the nation, and I think we are pretty close," Schreier said. "This field is unbelievably balanced and tough to seed. A lot of great traditions from some powerhouse programs are here are evidenced by past success."
By Schreier's count, 17 state championships, 13 second-place finishes, 11 third-place finishes and nine fourth-place finishes dot the 24-team field this season. Seven of the eight quarterfinalists are from Illinois, as well as Hilliard Darby, the prohibitive favorite to win the Ohio state championship.
The Tigers, who graduated a whopping 12 seniors from their state title team, are led by junior outside hitter Jared Wilcox, who has 50 kills already this season.
"We are a little inconsistent right now as we learn to play with each other and how to compete consistently," Schreier said.
Brother Rice was ranked No. 1 by the Chicago Sun-Times in its preseason rankings. The Crusaders were a quarterfinalist last year and are led by senior middle hitter Ryan Paull. The participants in last year's third-place game, Barrington and Minooka, are also in the Tiger Classic field. Barrington features seniors Charles Spry and Peter Van Fossan, while Minooka is paced by senior setter Phil Hannon and junior middle hitter Justin Toth.
The runner up to Wheaton South, Glenbrook North, also returns to the fold, as do quarterfinalists St. Rita and Lake Park, who is led this season by senior outside hitter Dillon Hock.
Downers Grove South, Lincoln-Way East and Sandburg each have two players listed in the Chicago Sun-Times top 50 players list coming into the season. Senior defensive specialist David DeMarco and junior middle hitter Nick Timreck lead Downers South. Lincoln-Way East boasts junior defensive duo Josh Phalen (libero) and Austin Royer (setter). Sandburg has seniors John Hodul and Michael Scannell on the front line.
Hilliard Darby replaces the defending Ohio state champion Moeller in the field. Schreier says that Moeller will be back in the tournament next year.
But Schreier knows that one area of the country has not been represented in the tournament in the past, something that he hopes will change in the coming years.
"We would always love to get some California schools here," Schreier said. "Hey, they always have an open invitation from me."
- Paul Johnson, CN100 Correspondent
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