Boys volleyball: Babicz, Barrington top Hersey for MSL title
You might say Wednesday night was a must-win situation for Mid-Suburban League West player of the year Josh Babicz and his fellow seniors on Barrington's boys volleyball team.
They lost in the Mid-Suburban League championship the last two seasons to East champion Buffalo Grove.
"I came in here like 'Oh God, we've got to win this year,' " said Babicz, a 6-foot-6 middle hitter. "It's our senior year, we've got to go out with a win in this match."
With Babicz doing his part in splendid fashion with a match-high 9 kills, the Broncos seniors will indeed exit their careers with an MSL crown after stopping host Hersey 25-19, 25-18 before a nice crowd at the Carter Gymnasium in Arlington Heights.
It was the sixth MSL title for Barrington coach Rob Ridenour in his 11 seasons in charge, and the Broncos' first since 2014.
"I'm really proud of the senior class (Babicz, Stephen Wanca, Michael Hagan, Sean Dolan, Jacob Werner, Zach Robins, Connor Shoults and Justin Hill)," Ridenour said. "It's a group of guys who have gone through a lot of hard work and grit. They've had a tremendous season."
Hersey coach Nancy Lill felt she saw a pretty tremendous performance from Babicz, also a tight end who will play football at North Dakota State.
"He was unbelievable," said Lill, one of the state's winningest coaches in girls and boys volleyball. "He was unstoppable, totally dominant. It didn't help that we didn't serve tough to get them out of their offense but he was a difference-maker for them today."
Babicz also had 4 blocks.
"He's a great player," said Hersey senior setter Vince Reisel, the MSL East's player of the year. "Hats off to Barrington -- they played really clean. But we've got more in us, and hopefully we'll have a chance to play them again."
Hersey played right with Barrington in the opening set. It was tied 11 times when the score reached 15-15.
But the Broncos asserted themselves at that point.
With sophomore Gabe Hartke at the service line, an ace, kill by Michale O'Toole and 2 hitting errors put the visitors in command 19-15.
Hersey (29-6) got back to within 21-18 but the Broncos (29-6) put it away with kills from Hartke, Babicz and a hitting error to end the set at 25-19.
"We all came together and played really well," said Hartke, who finished with 8 kills, 4 digs and 1 assist. "We had a great match and we had fun. It was our scrappiness -- all digs and all defense."
The defense was led Wanca (7 digs), O'Toole (4 digs, 3 blocks), Evan Carroll (3 blocks). O'Toole also had 5 kills.
In Set 2, an ace by Matt Hopkins gave Hersey a 3-1 lead.
But Barrington went on a 9-1 run ignited by a kill and back-to-back blocks by Babicz which made it 4-3 in favor of the Broncos.
Babicz added another block and kill during the run which was capped by O'Toole's ace that made it 10-4.
"Josh (Babicz) has been pretty dominant all year and in the first half of game one, he was kind of getting into rhythm," Ridenour said. "He came out for a few rotations and came back in and was back to being himself. He was pretty great the last game and a half."
"I was just kind of sluggish and slow in the first game," Babicz said. "But in the second game, I kind of woke up and my teammates got me energized. It was a great win for the team."
Hersey never got closer than 4 points, and Barrington took its biggest lead of the night at 23-15 on a kill by Hartke.
"I thought Gabe was unbelievable," Ridenour said. "For a sophomore to have the night he had was great. Also, our setter (junior Evan Carroll) made great decisions all night and really did a good job."
Leading the Huskies on attack were Jake Mailloux (6 kills), Joe Nugent (5 kills), Patrick O'Brien (5 kills) and Camran Saeed (3 kills) while Reisel handed out 17 assists from 44-of-44 setting.
Christian Castro was sharp on defense, collecting 9 digs followed by Justin Hong (6), Christian Hong (5) and O'Brien (4).
"Our serve receive was off," Lill said. "Normally we are a good passing team. We were not tonight.
"Offensively, we were constantly out of rhythm so they were all over our hitters. Normally when we are in our system we have a multidimensional team. This time we were very predictable.
"Give Barrington credit. They played a great match. We made error after error. They played consistently. The team that won this game was the team that played more consistently, and they did. So more power to them. Hopefully, we can get a chance to see them a week from Friday in the sectional. But first, we have to win a regional."