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updated: 4/17/2014 12:09 AM

Two-setter approach working for Glenbard West

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By Bill Stone
Daily Herald Correspondent

Senior Alec Garwood and sophomore Paulie Bischoff are a shining example of Glenbard West boys volleyball teamwork.

In the two-setter offense for the undefeated Hilltoppers, Bischoff has 107 assists and Garwood 93.

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"I'm extremely happy to run a 6-2 with (Bischoff). He's one of the best players I've seen at his age," Garwood said. "And it's really important that we get breaks because as setters, we control the tempo of the game, the energy level. We're able to go rest, come back refreshed and get everybody psyched up and get one those runs that we like."

On Wednesday the Hilltoppers faced an 8-point deficit in the second game, but they found the second wind necessary to sweep St. Patrick 25-13, 25-20 in Glen Ellyn and improve to 9-0.

Sophomore Kyler Kotsakis had 7 kills, senior Kyle Blane had 6, junior Jackson Nagle 5 and senior Peter Scruggs 4. Garwood and Bischoff had 12 and 11 assists, respectively.

"We have balance. We don't have a big hitter. We have a bunch of hitters that can score," Glenbard West coach Christine Giunta-Mayer said. "The floor is constantly spread on our offense, which I love. The setters love it. It gives them a ton of options, and it's been a huge advantage for us."

Giunta-Mayer burned her second timeout in the second game after the Shamrocks (6-6) opened a 13-5 lead. Garwood immediately got a dump kill and sophomore Will Church served for five straight points to close the gap to 14-12.

The Hilltoppers took their first lead at 18-17 with a Kotsakis kill on a net violation. A Garwood ace and point off an attack error gave the Hilltoppers a 21-18 lead they carried the rest of the way.

The varsity match was played first to accommodate St. Patrick, which then arrived late. Glenbard West dominated the first game after Bischoff's seven straight service points opened a 10-1 advantage.

"We never play first game so I'll blame it on the schedule a little bit (for our second game), but they can't do that, They've got to come with their guns loaded like they did in the first game," Giunta-Mayer said. "You can't think that you've got it (already won)."

Kotsakis led the second-game comeback with 5 kills coming from Bischoff's sets, and senior libero Anthony Roberts had 5 digs. St. Patrick also had only one attack error over the first 22 points of the game but finished with 8.

"I actually like it, running a 6-2 because we get to rotate with different players and I'm used to setting some of the guys that are on my team," Bischoff said. "That's a lot easier for me, and I know it is for Garwood, too."

Last season the 5-foot-10 Garwood also was part of a 6-2 offense with the graduated Kee Gales. This season Garwood primarily sets varsity returnees Blane and the much-improved Nagle. The 6-2 Bischoff's main targets are Kotsakis and sophomore Geo Smith, also his teammates in club ball, and Church.

"They're totally different setters, but they're very good to each other," Giunta-Mayer said. "They work well together and they're trying to keep in system with what height they're setting, where they're setting, how they set a certain person. They're really good communicating with each other so the chemistry is totally there."

The Hilltoppers lost only their second game so far this season Saturday. They then won the next two games and beat host Glenbard East in the championship match of the Springfest Tournament.

It's the first invitational title in program history since becoming an IHSA team in 2006.

"It's been a big camel on my back. It's a huge milestone for us," said Giunta-Mayer, the team's only head coach.

"It was a surreal moment. I'm still trying to process it," Garwood said. "We're all really excited, but we can't settle with that. If we get complacent, we're going to slow down midseason. It's really important to peak at the end of the season because that's when things matter most."

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