Glenbard West didn't have much of a chance to savor Friday's boys volleyball state quarterfinal match at Hoffman Estates.
Good thing the Hilltoppers will be back Saturday.
The Hilltoppers dispatched Morton 25-14, 25-18. Morton never led, and there were only two ties, both in Game 1, at 7-7 and 9-9.
"Just a lot of teamwork. Our energy's been really high lately," Hilltoppers junior Jackson Nagle said of Glenbard West's quick work. "That was a problem anytime we lost. We've just had low energy and it was really hard to get into the games, but once everybody started getting into it and getting excited, it makes it a lot easier to pull out the victory."
"There was a sense of urgency, since this could be so many of the seniors' last games," classmate Ryan Condon added. "So we all really wanted to give them that final memory of leaving West with a win."
By the time the juniors spoke to the media after the match, coach Christine Giunta-Mayer and the Hilltoppers seniors had already left Hoffman Estates, hurrying back to Glen Ellyn for Friday night's graduation ceremony.
They'll all be back at Hoffman Estates at 11 a.m. Saturday for a semifinal match against Warren. A victory in the semifinal would send the Hilltoppers to the state championship match at 5:15 p.m.
The Hilltoppers (34-6) got out to a slow start to the match. A few nerves from being at state might have been a factor.
"It was definitely a different experience than other games we had had, just because it was just weird going into a different gym and then coming back," Nagle said. "It was a just different experience. I guess we just weren't accustomed to it, and it took a while to get into the flow of things again and start playing as we usually do."
"And we've been playing a lot of different teams," Condon added. "Morton's such a scrappy team. They're very smart. So we were used to more powerful volleyball, getting big blocks and stuff against big hitters. We haven't played a scrappy team in a while. It was kind of a wakeup for us."
After those early ties the Hilltoppers took control, grabbing leads of 17-11 and 23-12 before salting away Game 1.
"We were with them up to a certain point," Morton coach Tony Hornilla said, "and then they just pulled away and we just kept chipping away and they just kept that lead and we just couldn't do anything about it."
That momentum appeared to carry over into the second game, but Morton (22-10) cut a 10-5 deficit until it trailed just 11-10.
"There were just a couple of unforced errors there from everybody," Nagle said. "Communication was a little lacking at that point, and we were just like, all right, we beat them the first time, so we can do it again. We played it the way we usually do and we picked it up, kept the ball in the court and that's all we really needed to do."
But a Nagle kill followed by a Peter Scruggs kill stopped the Mustangs' run, and a Peter Swartz kill gave the Hilltoppers a 20-15 lead and forced a Morton timeout.
"Whenever that happens the seniors and everybody are pretty good about coming together and figuring out what we need to do to be successful," Condon said.
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