Maleski, Stevenson stand tall in opener
By now, the Grant Maleski story is well known.
But in case you hadn't heard, he wandered into the volleyball world as a 6-foot-4 freshman.
"He was a bean pole,'' noted Stevenson volleyball coach Eric Goolish. "He just needed to grow into his body."
And there was that matter of his junior season at Stevenson. It was mostly lost to a broken wrist Maleski sustained during club season.
Evidently, that didn't bother the folks out West. Now 6-foot-9, Maleski will play next at UCLA.
More good news came on Monday night in Lincolnshire.
It was opening night of the boys volleyball season, and the smaller Lakes Eagles were not about to give the Pats a free pass.
"Lakes has a lot of big guys,'' Maleski noted. "They were getting both hands on the ball."
On a block kill from Lakes' Chris Leyva, the Eagles had a 16-15 lead in set one -- but it turned out to be Lakes' last lead of the match. Maleski had 9 kills in Stevenson's 25-21, 25-12 victory.
"I'm happy with the way we played,'' Goolish said. "I'm happy to get the win on opening night. Lakes blocked really well."
Again, the first set was a toss-up most of the way. There were seven ties in the first set.
Lakes has a new coach this spring, Kevin Glabowicz. He is the school's third head coach in the past three years.
"For our first year, with a new coach, I'm happy with this match,'' Glabowicz said. "We had some hiccups in the second set. Our first set was great."
Maleski's kill knotted the first set at 17-17.
"This season should be really exciting,'' Maleski said. "We have a lot of new guys. We have a lot of great weapons. And a lot of people who have been here since freshman year."
Lakes made a few serving errors late in set one. And Maleski made them pay
with thundering kills. A serving error gave the Pats the first-set win.
Another Stevenson senior, Austin Zhou, opened up serve for the Pats in the second set. He quickly gave the Pats a 4-0 lead. Maleski and Junhao Chen had the kills. Chen had a block-kill and Stevenson's lead was 12-7.
"This was a good litmus test for us,'' Glabowicz said. "Stevenson threw a lot at us tonight."
Lakes' offense shut down late in the second set. It was 19-11 Patriots when Alex Bian went in to serve for Stevenson. Matt Cliffer had the first block kill. Chen finished the second set with a kill.
Hudson Havenhill aided the Stevenson offense with 4 kills. Chen added 3
kills. New setter, sophomore Will Sorenson, had 18 assists, and Zhou notched 5 digs.
For Lakes, both Mathew Haufe and Jacob Deener had 5 kills. Jacob Keenan had 9 assists to go with 3 kills. On defense, Conner Clowers had 6 digs.