Boys volleyball: Glenbard West defends its home court in state quarterfinals
Bringing back a state volleyball championship to Glenbard West is the goal, and for the Hilltoppers this year, they don't have far to go to do that.
Usually, Hoffman Estates hosts the IHSA state boys volleyball championship, but a scheduling conflict there put the event up for bid and Glenbard West was named the host.
Now the Hilltoppers, who won three straight state championships from 2015 to 2017, are just two wins on their home court from adding another first-place trophy to their collection.
On Friday, Glenbard West swept St. Rita in the quarterfinals 25-17, 25-17 to punch a ticket to Saturday's noon semifinal against Lake Park.
"It's definitely meant a lot to us to get back here," Glenbard West senior outside hitter Danny Pasinski said. "And the tradition of this program didn't get to be continued last year (because of COVID) by a lot of great seniors from last year, but they're back now and they're coming out here to see us and we're doing it for them."
In 2018, Glenbard West missed the state championship game and then finished in second place in 2019. The Hilltoppers eyed last season as their season to get back to the "top of the hill." A lost year didn't sit well with them.
"This program has had great success and great traditions," Glenbard West senior setter Tommy Lohman said. "There were some expectations for last year's team that didn't end up happening because of COVID and we didn't want there to be a year off. That also played into (this year's success) a little bit."
Glenbard West is now 35-2 on the season with its only two losses to Downers Grove South and Lyons.
In the first set against St. Rita, points ebbed and flowed much of the way and the score was tied at 17 when Glenbard West went on an 8-0 run to close out.
Pasinski and Danny Dorsey had some big kills during that stretch.
The second set was similar. Glenbard West was up 17-14 and allowed St. Rita to score just 3 more points before closing out the match.
"We couldn't get a side out when we needed one in those rotations," St. Rita coach Brian Hagen said. "And they (Glenbard West) do such a good job of keeping the ball off the ground and extending rallies. That's kind of the name of the game in boys volleyball. You'll eventually get someone to make a mistake if you keep playing defense."
Pasinski had a match-high 12 kills for Glenbard West and Dorsey added 5. Lohman had 23 assists while Zack Noland and Pasinski each had a team-high 9 digs.
For St. Rita, senior outside hitter Zach Carroll led the way with 9 kills. Setter Danny Chambers had 17 assists and Jimmy Sanders had 10 digs.
Earlier this season, St. Rita played Glenbard West and took the Hilltoppers to three sets before losing, 25-20, 22-25, 8-25.
St. Rita, which finishes with a 19-8 record, has been in the state quarterfinals three of the last four years, with last year's COVID year being the lone exception.
"Freshman year, we didn't do so well, but the experience was good," Carroll said. "Sophomore year, we took New Trier to three, and then this year, we thought we were going to take it.
"It was awesome. Every year we got better."