Boys volleyball: Glenbard West wins first Benet Invitational title
Cross another one off Glenbard West's boys volleyball bucket list.
One week after winning the Brother Rice Smack Attack for the first time, Glenbard West registered another program milestone Saturday by whipping Benet 25-10, 25-9 to claim its first Benet Invitational title.
Tournament MVP Paulie Bischoff led the Hilltoppers (24-0) with 18 assists, 4 kills, 4 digs and an 11-point service run featuring 2 aces in the second game.
"The past two weekends were really motivating for us because we've never won one of these tournaments," Bischoff said. "Both of the championship matches in these tournaments last year were a huge upset for us. I think that's what really motivated us to come out strong."
Last year, after Sandburg derailed Glenbard West in the finals at the Smack Attack, Benet took down the Hilltoppers in the title bout on their home floor. But this one was never close. The Hilltoppers built an 11-2 lead in Game 1 and a 19-2 lead in Game 2.
Kyler Kotsakis and Robbie Murphy were the main beneficiaries of Glenbard West's pinpoint passing, which rarely forced Bischoff off the net.
"The passing in this match was unbelievable," Bischoff said. "We work more on serve receive than we do on our offense. That's the most important part of the game. The three guys in the back row did an unreal job. I give it all to them."
Libero Zach Norvid added 7 digs for Glenbard West, which has yet to drop a game this season.
"We've been pretty consistent," Bischoff said. "We've had a few matches were we let things go by and had a few downs, but I think it's important that we go in that hole a little bit so we know how to work back and come back from a 5-, 6-point deficit.
"But overall, our playing has been pretty consistent and most of that is due our serve-receive," he added. "Our coach (Christine Giunta-Mayer) emphasizes that so much. If there was no serve-receive, it would be a much different game."
Christopher Yates had 4 kills and a block and Jackson Van Eekeren added 10 assists for Benet (21-8), which reached the championship match by beating St. Francis 25-22, 25-18 in pool play and Neuqua Valley 25-22, 18-25, 25-22 in the semifinals.
The win over St. Francis was Benet coach Amy Van Eekeren's 600th victory as a boys and girls varsity volleyball coach.
"I thought we played a little scared (against Glenbard West)," Van Eekeren said. "The first time we played them at the Springfest tournament, I don't think we were scared, we just made a few mistakes. Once we got going today, my sophomores and our team collectively looked nervous."
"But this is a tough tournament and going 4-1 is not something to be shy about," she added. "I just wish we would've executed better. Even if we made mistakes, just executing better. We just made too many mistakes. We played hesitant and scared, and you can't beat a top team doing that."