At 6-foot-6, Wheaton Academy senior middle hitter Steven McDonell clearly was the tallest player on the volleyball court in Monday's match with Illinois Math and Science Academy.
The question was whether the Warriors could take advantage.
"It's not about our hitting. It's really all about the passing, though, for us," senior setter Kevin Esposito said. "I don't make perfect sets every time, but when we do get in system, it helps us out a lot."
It may not have been a perfect match for Esposito, but it was for McDonell. All seven of his attacks resulted in kills as the Warriors dominated 25-14, 25-11 in West Chicago.
"I've gotten close, but nothing 100 percent (like this). It felt great to have that today," McDonell said. "A lot of it came down just to the matchups. Just the height difference has a huge impact. Our passers play a huge factor in what we're doing so that was our biggest part."
Outside hitters Braden Martin and Tyler Sharkey also excelled for Wheaton Academy (8-9).
Esposito recorded 16 assists before being subbed late in the second set. Not even including McDonell's perfect hitting, the Warriors had 20 kills with 9 attack errors.
"(McDonell) and Braden have been kind of our go-to guys offensively," Wheaton Academy coach D.A. Nichols said. "(McDonell has) done really well for us. He's really starting to figure out to use his 6-6 in his reach. The longer he and (Esposito) work, they're just getting better as the season goes."
After the Warriors scored the first three points, IMSA (2-8) grabbed its only lead at 6-5. Wheaton Academy scored the next three points with back-to-back aces from Martin and opened a 15-8 lead on McDonell's team-high fifth kill of the set.
"Kevin does a great job setting for me. He's set me all four years," McDonell said.
Sharkey served the Warriors to a 5-0 lead in the second set with an ace, two kills from Martin and a kill and block assist by McDonell. Sharkey added three straight kills during a five-point service run by Martin for a 15-5 advantage.
The Warriors had 6 aces with 5 errors. The Titans had 2 aces with 4 errors.
"Today we were kind of back to where I thought we should be (with serve receive) at this point of the year," Nichols said. "It's just up and down with us right now. We're young. We graduated 10 seniors. But it's no excuse. We have enough players and athletes that we should have it right now and we'll get it."
The Warriors were 1-4 at the Addison Trail Tournament Saturday and have been experimenting with lineups, especially after starting sophomore libero Steven Sellers was hurt at the Streamwood Tournament on April 19.
Monday's starting rotation was the one the Warriors began and ended with Saturday. Alec Heidlauf, another sophomore, is playing libero.
Co-captains McDonell and Esposito are the lone seniors on the team, and kill leader Martin joins them as returning starters. Starkey and right-side hitter Grant Copple are playing new positions this season and middle hitter Soren Johnson is new to varsity competition.
"A lot of credit to (Sellers) and all of the young guys coming in because we didn't think we'd be working things together by now. We didn't know how it was going to work out," Esposito said. "I think we're getting there. I think as soon as (Sellers) comes back, we can finally put it all together."