Scouting boys volleyball

Just like last season, Glenbard West is among the top teams aiming to win the boys state volleyball title this spring.

The Hilltoppers (39-3) rode a talented team to the state championship in 2022, bringing back several key players this spring, namely senior outside hitter Parker Moorhead, senior middle hitter Liam O'Neil, junior libero Andrew Ellis and juniors Xavion Willett and Adam Graham.

Antioch (15-15) made several strides last season with numerous first-time accomplishments. The Sequoits have the returnees to take it another step this spring, especially with senior group of Gavin Nelson, Matthew Schultz, Thomas Weber, Nathan Young, Dylan Niznik, Ben Georgia and Keith Hill and sophomore Charlie Robinson leading the team.

Bartlett (26-7) is aiming to win the Upstate Eight Conference for the fourth year in a row, led by setter Aaron Amawan, middle hitter Adam Koniecko and outside hitter Spencer Medendorp.

"We have a strong core of seniors and experienced juniors," Bartlett coach Robert Schwantz said.

Benet (28-10) brings back two starters from last season, with Dom Krzeczkowski and Aris Maurukas slated to become key players this spring.

Carmel, 21-15 last season, is a young team but veteran team, according to coach Kevin Nylen. The Corsairs have a good mix of players, highlighted by seniors Will Niese, Dylan Franada and Brad Schaefer.

Conant has six returnees from a team that won a regional title last season, namely Jacob Pietraszek, Nick Gutka, Michael Recko, Liam Cunningham, Maksymiliam Zalensinski and Declan Brennan.

"The competitive atmosphere, led by our seniors, will drive our success," Conant coach Drewann Pancratz said.

Downers Grove North lost significant firepower following the graduation of all-state outside hitter Ian Schuller but does feature Theo Pawlik (174 kills), Cooper Hansen (158 kills), Grant Henderson (513 assists) and Lincoln Geist (290 digs).

Downers Grove South (36-5) is led by middle hitter Mason Kolar and setter Nick Koch. Both played a key role on last season's third-place state team.

Elk Grove middle hitter Bart Sarat, a St. Xavier recruit, is a top player in the Mid-Suburban League, joining junior Jason Lewis and senior Jay Patel on a developing team.

After a stellar season that included winning two tournaments, Fremd (24-8) heads into the new season with optimism. Senior outside hitter Camden Seaver, a Missouri S & T recruit, is a two-time all-conference player. Seniors Nick Tangney, Marcin Hoffman, Cooper O'Kelly, JR Stella and junior Nate Caro are all expected to lead the team.

Glenbrook North coach Chris Cooper has three starters from last season's 29-win team back, in senior setter Paul Cho (593 assists), senior outside hitter Connor Durst (296 kills, 56 aces) and junior outside hitter Evan Uhlig (135 kills).

Grayslake Central is aided by senior outside hitter Ryan Huntington, an Augustana recruit, leading the way. The Rams, 21-14 for a program record in wins for a season, lost nine players but have six sophomores aiming to fill the talent void.

Grayslake North is coming off an 18-17 season and second place finish in conference at 7-3. Top returning players include Luke Conover (Sr., OH), Evan McMahon (Sr., RS), Kevin Meyer (Jr., DS), Adam Petraitis (Jr., RS) and Ryan Rhodes (Sr., L) with newcomers Jack Calhoun (Jr., S); Caden Smith (Sr., OH) and Eli Wetter (Sr., MH).

"We have five returning players who will help contribute to our team's success," coach Nikki Kirchway said. "In addition, we have added several players who we know will help add to our competitiveness on the court in practice and in matches. The baseline of our talent is the highest we have seen and we are really excited to show others what we are made of. We plan to break records again this year and vie for a top finish in conference while having some of the best players in the area on our team."

Hersey (29-9) is motivated to win a regional title again thanks to the return of Justin Arrowood, Michael Seamans, Alex Sulewski, Connor Krebs and Rory Broderick.

Hinsdale Central senior outside hitter Jakobi Lange, a USC recruit, is among the top players in the state. The Red Devils also return senior libero Nick Kujalowicz and senior middle hitter Jack Erickson. Hinsdale South juniors Nate Ockrim and Adrian Folfas are the leaders on a young but athletic team.

At Lakes, junior outside hitter Erik Stover (324 kills) is one of the top players in Lake County. The Eagles also bring back senior outside hitter Kaden Martin (200 kills), junior middle hitter David Synovic (43 blocks) and senior setter Will Haak (644 assists).

Lake Zurich junior Anthony Kim, a three-year starter, tallied 210 digs last season to be among the top returnees for his team this season, plus senior Ethan Shon.

Libertyville has three key returnees from last season's memorable run that ended with a fourth-place state medal - senior setter Luis Correa and senior outside hitters Aleks Slesers and Braden Andersen.

Lake Park (20-17) possesses a mix of sophomores, juniors and seniors on its roster, with senior outside hitter Evan DeValk, senior setter AJ Lally, sophomore middle hitter Carter Gibbons, junior setter Dylan Brinkley and junior middle hitter David Lebiedzinski a team to watch.

Metea Valley (28-10) had many memorable moments in 2022 - DuPage Valley Conference title for the first time in program history, Gold Bracket winners at Warren and Metea Valley invite. The Mustangs lost significant talent from last season, though outside hitter Bartosz Chmielewski and middle hitter Robert Stewart are back.

Mundelein has a good group of players in the fold, including Matthew Kawa (238 assists), Carlos Eloiza (110 kills), Kevin Mann (77 kills), Shane Clausen and Samay Prajapati (92 kills, 39 blocks).

Naperville Central is relying on seniors Hudson Warnes, Wyatt Yager and Lucas Johnson to help a young team building for the future.

Neuqua Valley senior outside hitter Noah Hrubesky and sophomore setter Ermuun Batchuluun are players to watch in the DVC this season.

Palatine has one of the tallest players in the state, in 6-foot-10 Derek Nagel, who committed to play for George Mason. The Pirates (19-18) lost 10 seniors from last season.

Prospect (20-13) is full of talented and experienced players, with Will Klimek, Ryan Cook, Marc Ruffolo, Luke Cradduck and Ben Schram the core returnees. Rolling Meadows senior libero Juan Flores, senior defensive specialist Aidan Moran and junior outside hitter Gavin Jensen are attempting to build off last season's playoff success.

Schaumburg endured some growing pains due to a young team last year, but senior Chris Radomski, a Benedictine recruit, joins junior Carter Luecht to raise the bar for expectations this spring.

South Elgin's top returnees include senior outside hitter Sean Harvey, a Penn State recruit, and senior outside hitter Adrian Martinez.

"Sean is stepping up as our leader this year after a successful junior season and a big offseason," South Elgin coach Jesse Bossenga said.

Stevenson is led by Sam Nuudel, a three-year varsity player. The Patriots have a wealth of talent back in the fold, including David Wang, Jason DeZutter, James Angelos, Ramsey Engel and Yugank Arora to make a run at another North Suburban Conference title.

Vernon Hills senior middle hitter David Rzepa (167 kills) is a player slated to lead his team, along with senior libero Evan Hessel (248 digs, 22 aces) and senior outside hitters Adam Gerken (101 kills) and senior outside hitter Noah Ellis (126 kills).

Wheaton Warrenville South (15-19) is looking for a bounce-back showing due to standouts Evan Hutchins (83 kills, 59 solo blocks), Joey Kohley (308 digs, 16 aces), Joey Kelly (147 digs, 34 aces), Mergan Purevsuren (164 kills, 124 digs) and Quinn Harty all back.

A year ago, York was a young team full of promise. Not this year. The Dukes are looking to top last season's results - 25-11 and third place in the West Suburban Silver. Senior outside hitter Michael Rimington (248 kills) headlines the returnees.

"This year we won't be sneaking up on anyone," York coach Kenneth Dowdy said. "The expectations overall are very high for this team."

  Justin Arrowood helped Hersey win 29 games last year. Paul Valade/
  Camden Seaver, a Missouri S&T recruit, is a two-time all-conference player for Fremd. Paul Valade/
  South Elgin's Sean Harvey will play college volleyball at Penn State. Brian Hill/
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