Outside hitter Kevin Schroeder has been a key contributor to all the good times the Hersey boys volleyball program has enjoyed over the last four years.
Unfortunately for the senior and his teammates, the Huskies' season and Schroeder's exemplary prep career came to an end Friday night at the Niles West sectional.
Hersey couldn't recapture the magic of Wednesday's regional title win over Glenbrook North as the Huskies fell to No. 3 seed Loyola 25-17, 25-20 in a sectional semifinal in Skokie.
"This isn't the way we wanted to go out," Schroeder said "But it's definitely been a successful season. There were a lot of highs and not too many lows this year, and the regional championship was absolutely one of the high points."
Schroeder finished with 3 kills of 13-of-13 hitting against the Ramblers.
Hersey coach Nancy Lill says the senior will be sorely missed.
"Kevin's been a great kid to have on our team," Lill said. "He's a leader, and it was nice to have players with the maturity level that he and our other two seniors this year (Sahir Bhayani and Lukasz Swietek) showed on a daily basis."
The youthful Huskies, with six juniors and six sophomores on the roster, may have fallen victim to a bit of nervousness early as they committed 10 hitting errors in set one to fall behind.
"I think that might have been a factor," Lill said. "They played fearlessly against Glenbrook North, and they were the underdogs again tonight at the next level (the sectionals). They were tight and made too many mistakes.
"This was frustrating. We didn't play our best game, especially when you consider that we beat this team (Loyola) last week at the Maine South invite. They might have thought that tonight all they had to do was come out and execute but they didn't bring that fearless effort that they did against the Spartans."
The Huskies took an early lead in set two led by the stellar play of 6-foot-5 sophomore Bart Migus (team-high 6 kills), but the imposing hitting of Loyola's David Wieczorek saw the Ramblers grab a 7-point advantage midway through.
Hersey (20-18) rallied to pull within 17-13 after junior middle blocker Mike Fuerst went to full extension to knock down a kill, but Loyola scored 5 of the next 6 points to quash the comeback attempt.
Fuerst had another late kill as did classmate Matt Aguilar to fight off the inevitable, but a final spike off the block from Loyola's Sean Barry closed out the match.
Junior setter Matt Torvik recorded 13 assists for the Huskies while junior libero Fotis Christacos finished with 13 digs.
"I've had a lot of fun the last four years," added Schroeder, who will attend the University of Illinois in the fall to study advertising. "I've had the pleasure of having a lot of great teammates, and the coaches I played for, Jodi Blazek and Nancy Lill -- and all of the assistant coaches -- were the best.
"It's really starting to sink it that this was my last match, especially since I won't be playing in college. It's crazy."