Coach: KC Johnsen
Last year: 21-12, lost 25-13, 25-18 to St. Charles North in regional championship match. Top players: Chris Parrilli, sr., OH, Jonathan Bishop, so., MB, Zheyuan Tang, jr., OH, Luke Will, jr., S/RS, Spencer Sharpe, jr., OH, David Franz, fr., S/RS, Brandon Navigato, sr., L, Sam Wulfkuhle, jr., MB, Nicholas Buseski, jr., OH, Samuel Wright, jr., MB, Ethan Roesch, jr., DS.
St. Charles East
Coach: Kate McCullagh
Last year: Won first regional championship. Top returners: Luke Spicer, sr., OH, Mark Healy, sr., DS, RJ Yoder, sr., OH, Kriss Brunovskis, sr., MH, Robert Kudlicki, sr., MH.
Key newcomers: Jake Lauger, so., S, Grant Patrick, so., MH, Jimmy Farace, so., OH.
Outlook: Spicer, committed to Dominican University, heads the returnees on a team that made school history last spring. He's one of many Saints that have decided to play volleyball in the off-season which in turn is making a difference in the level of play on the high school team. "We are excited that many of our student athletes have played club volleyball and become better players in the off-season," McCullagh said. "We have nine seniors and three sophomores all of which are excited for the season and are ready to work hard." While St. Charles North emerged from the UEC River to take third in the state, the North Stars graduated most of that team and McCullough isn't sure what to make of this year's River race -- or exactly how the Saints' season will go. "It is always tough to predict what the season will bring. We are excited for the season and are going to focus on our team and getting better everyday," McCullagh said. "Our strengths and weaknesses are still to be determined as right now. We are focusing a lot on basic ball control. Last year we made school history by winning regionals so I would say our goal is to make this season even better than the last."
St. Charles North
Coach: Todd Weimer
Last year: 32-7, 5-0 in the Upstate Eight Conference, sectional champions, third place in state. Top returners: Jack Bujko, sr., MH/RS, Nic Cook, sr., L/S.
Key newcomers: Jeff Rollins, sr., S/RS, Ben Connor, sr., S/RS, Chris Corcoran, sr., OH/RS, Tyler DeMoss, sr., MH/RS, Johnny Davern, jr., S/RS, Brendan Donlevy, jr., OH/RS, Trevor Gonzaga, jr., DS/L, Zach Bonstetter, jr., MH, Drew Lanz, so., OH/RS, Jackson Kolodziej, so., OH/RS.
Outlook: The North Stars start their fifth year under Weimer after by far their best season, capping it with a 25-20, 25-20 win over Glenbrook South to take third in state. Almost the entire core of that team graduated except Bujko and Cook, who are both captains along with Rollins, who was brought up for the postseason last year and played a few points at state. The newcomers include a couple of Tom Poulin's varsity basketball players DeMoss and Davern, and a football letter winner Donlevy. "Coming off a great season last year, we want to continue the success," Weimer said. "We have a great mix of youth, athletes, club players, and two returning players. We can block and attack well and we are versatile in the setting and libero position as well."
Coach: Tolis Koskinaris
Last year: 6-29, eighth in the DuPage Valley Conference. Top returners: Justin Reynolds, so., OH, Adam Fitzgerald, so., S, Nick Catania, jr., OH, Jimmy Roggeman, so., OH, Lucas Kilmer, sr., MH.
Key newcomers: Thomas Kovanic, fr.
Outlook: With sophomores Reynolds, Fitzgerald and Roggeman plus the 6-foot-6 freshman Kovanic, the Blackhawks will be one of the younger teams -- but also one with quite a bright future. "We are very young," Koskinaris said. West Aurora also will play sophomores at libero and right side. "All with the play to make a serious move next year when we go to the realigned Upstate Eight," Koskinaris said. "Talented kiddos. Will be excited to watch them grow. 2015 and 2016 are contender years. Until then we are going to be up and down." Koskinaris expects Reynolds and Kovanic to draw quite a bit of attention from opponents.