The Glenbard West boys volleyball team continued an annual tradition Wednesday of playing host to Whitney Young for its home opener and treating the Dolphins to a postgame dinner in the field house.
"(It's occurred) as long as I've been here. It's really nice," senior tri-captain Andrew Roberts said. "It's kind of a dinner to thank them."
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On the court the Hilltoppers showed a hunger that should mean good things for the 2014 season. Strong blocking and defense complemented a solid offensive night for a 25-12, 25-13 victory in Glen Ellyn.
The Hilltoppers (2-0) combined 19 kills and only 6 attack errors with 8 points that came from blocks.
"We've been working on our hitting, but we feel that's one of our strong suits," senior tri-captain Kyle Blane said. "That's going to help us, because not the tallest team." '
Kyler Kotsakis, Blane and Peter Scruggs and setters Paulie Bischoff and tri-captain Alec Garwood led the offense.
Defensively, libero Roberts had 12 digs but a less hectic match thanks to blocks by Scruggs and Zach Myers, Geo Smith and Blane.
"Extraordinary. It's one of the things we've been working on the most and we'll continue to work on it," Glenbard West coach Christine Giunta-Mayer said. "They're working really well together. They're good to each other. If they keep it up, there's nowhere to go but up."
While Blane led the 2013 Hilltoppers with 191 kills, all around play has become even more emphasized. Junior returnee Parker Swartz was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back earlier in the week and is out for the season.
"With Parker down we were wondering who was going to step up and take that middle spot and both of our middles (Scruggs and Myers) did an excellent job today. I think the best I've seen them play," Roberts said.
The Hilltoppers have come a long way since their first official season of 2006. The annual match and dinner pays back the kindness Whitney Young's program exhibited back then.
"They're the first team that took us on their schedule. They're the first team that gave us a chance," Giunta-Mayer said. "We got killed (in 2006). We should not have been on the same court with them, but they were so extraordinary to us, so kind to us, (the dinner is) something we like to do every year."
Glenbard West has beaten Whitney Young (0-2) four years straight. The Dolphins finished with 12 kills and 19 attack errors Wednesday.
The Hilltoppers jumped to a 7-2 lead in the first game after Roberts served six straight points. Garwood served the last two points, which came on block assists from Jackson Nagle and Scruggs and Scruggs and Smith.
After a 3-2 deficit the Hilltoppers never trailed in the second game. Kotsakis served the final two points on a Scruggs solo block and an ace for match point.
Roberts already is convinced he won't reach his team-high total of 448 digs from last season.
"This year, the block's better so I'm not going to get as many balls, which is good obviously," Roberts said.
The Hilltoppers have five returning starters and hope to go farther in the playoffs than 2013. They lost to eventual state champion Downers Grove South in the regional finals.
"We've gotten so close and I feel we've only gotten better from last year," Blane said. "We were so close to beating DGS and they won state so it just kind of puts it in perspective how close we are to making it all the way."