When a team has options to attack, it makes it that much more dangerous in volleyball.
Naperville Central's ability to pass against Glenbard East made the Redhawks' attack much more diverse, and it led to Naperville Central's surprising 25-20, 13-25, 25-15 victory on Tuesday evening in Lombard in the DuPage Valley Conference opener for both schools.
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"Nobody is expecting us to be even remotely near the top of the conference this season, so our goal is to be at or near the top three," said Naperville Central defensive specialist Raymond Chang. "We want people to be scared when they play us."
Teams throughout the league won't find playing the Redhawks pleasant if they keep the ball up off the ground like they did against Glenbard East.
The Redhawks' strong passing led by Chang allowed setter Daniel Trembacki to have his choice of options when he was setting his teammates, which lead to a balanced attack.
Sophomore Jack Burton led the Redhawks with 11 kills, while junior Jack Chiczewski added 10 kills and senior Matthew Krebs had 9 kills.
"(Glenbard East) has some really good players, but we came out knowing that we were the clear underdogs and we were fired up to play them," Burton said.
Naperville Central (7-5, 1-0) pulled away late in first game thanks to timely attacks from Burton, along with some solid play along the net from middles Michael Timmerberg and Trever Jackson.
The Rams (4-3, 0-1) rebounded to take the second game with relative ease, leading from start to finish.
Glenbard East led 4-2 in the decisive third game, but Naperville Central received another strong effort from Burton as he accounted for four straight attacks to pull the Redhawks ahead 10-6. The Rams closed to within 14-12, but Naperville Central coach Jeff Danbom called time out.
"We settled things down a bit," Danbom said. "One of the things we talked about in the huddle was having a strong serve-receive pass to give ourselves options. It was a reminder of fundamentals."
The Redhawks scored the next six points to take a commanding 20-12 edge before they closed out the match.
"This is a young team, but they are learning how to find ways to play together," said Danbom, whose team bounced back from a rough showing at last weekend's WW South Classic. "We're not the tallest team or the strongest team, but we have to play fast and do the fundamentals like passing really well and we did that tonight."
For Rams coach Marci Maier, it was a match the Rams will have to learn from as they move forward throughout conference play.
"We didn't come out and play well," Maier said. "Our block setup was not there tonight. We never could get in any type of rhythm. They kept the ball in play, but we just didn't execute on our side of the net."