Scouting DuPage County boys volleyball
Top teams: Neuqua Valley, Glenbard West, Hinsdale Central, Naperville North.
Top players: Albert Atczylo (Hinsdale South, Jr.); Marc Bailey (Waubonsie Valley, Jr.); Sean Becker (Benet, Sr.); Bryce Bernard (Hinsdale Central, Sr.); Carson Brandt (Glenbard East, Sr.); Jeremy Cardenas (Neuqua Valley, Sr.); Joey Cavazos (Willowbrook, Sr.); Billy Closset (Wheaton Warrenville South, So.); Henry Curtis (Glenbard West, Sr.); Nathan Dahms (Hinsdale South, Sr.); Matthew Degnan (Benet, Jr.); Ryan Donnelly (Lake Park, Jr.); Kevin Drazba (Benet, Sr.); Max Ellenbecker (Lake Park, Sr.); Declin Ermer (Wheaton Warrenville South, Jr.); Mike Ferek (Wheaton Academy, Sr.); Anthony Figueroa (Downers Grove South, Jr.); Alec Gaertner (Metea Valley, Sr.); Brad Gall (Downers Grove South, Jr.); Mike Gergan (Montini, Sr.); Josh Gottlieb (Wheaton Warrenville South, So.); Fred Halper (Downers Grove North, Sr.); Michael Hay (Willowbrook, Jr.); Ben Harrington (Glenbard West, Jr.); Jared Heggeland (Wheaton North, Sr.); Grant Howard (West Chicago, Sr.); Marcus Ingold (St. Francis, Sr.); Cal Iwinski (Glenbard East, Sr.); John Jaworski (Naperville North, Sr.); Kevin Kauling (Neuqua Valley Sr.); Chase Keating (Wheaton Warrenville South, Jr.); Caleb Kulesza (West Chicago, Sr.); Griffen Lizka (Downers Grove North, Sr.); Richie Lozanoski (Hinsdale Central, Sr.); Augie Mazza (Benet, So); Myles Marcinaik (Montini, Jr.); Joe Martens (Downers Grove North, Sr.); Collin McCarville (York, Sr.); Connor Murphy (Metea Valley, Sr.); Joe Mosny (Addison Trail, Sr.); Zack Morris (Glenbard West, Sr.); Luke Nelson (Lake Park, Jr.); Kyler Nielsen (Wheaton Warrenville South, So.); Ryan Owens (Metea Valley, Jr.); Tim Savage (Lake Park, Sr.); Gabe Scharosch (Neuqua Valley, Jr.); Benett Schreiner (Wheaton North, Sr.); Ben Schwieger (Waubonsie Valley, So.); Cale Shepherd (Wheaton North, Sr.); Carter Stenmark (Naperville Central, Jr.); Cal Snyder (Hinsdale Central, Sr.); Owen Struebing (Wheaton Warrenville South, Jr.); Ryan Swartz (Glenbard West, Sr.); Pat Resing (York, Sr.); Colin Rachford (Wheaton Warrenville South, Jr.); Nate Rutter (Naperville Central, Jr.); Jack Tischler (Downers Grove South, Sr.); Ben Thompson (Downers Grove North, Jr.); Mike Wagner (West Chicago, Sr.); Bryce Walker (St. Francis, Jr.); Justin Werderitch (Addison Trail, Sr.); Sam Wichhart (Naperville Central, Sr.); Connor Williams (Glenbard West, Sr.); Connor Wojcik (Naperville North, Sr.); Mark Zheng (Montini, Sr.); Henry Zhou (Naperville North, Sr.).
Outlook: After Lincoln-Way East won the state title last season to end DuPage County's championship run, many area teams are loaded with talent to try and return the trophy back to DuPage County. Glenbard West, which had its three-year title streak end with a third-place medal last season, is primed for another solid season. Senior outside hitter Ben Swartz and junior outside hitter Ben Harrington lead a deep team.
"Ryan is an explosive (player) on the court and is very calm and has great leadership skills," Glenbard West coach Christine Giunta-Mayer said. "We're looking forward to an incredible year from him. Ben has shown incredible maturity and is a physical force for us on the court."
Neuqua Valley came within a few points of winning the state title last season, placing second in a stellar season. Senior setter Kevin Kauling, a Lewis University recruit, is one of the best players in the country. Senior middle hitter Jeremy Cardenas and junior outside hitter Gabe Scharosch form the strength of the team.
"We return a number of players that got great experience in our run as state runners-up," Neuqua Valley coach Erich Mendoza said. "We'll have good height on this year's team, so we'll have a number of options to get a kill…Based off of our returning players and the new additions to varsity, I feel that we can make another run at state."
Hinsdale Central welcomes back a strong group of players from last season's 29-11 squad that lost to Neuqua Valley in three sets in the sectional finals. Senior outside hitter Cal Snyder, in his third year as a starter, is set for a big season after gaining strength and playing with Hitmen Volleyball Club in the off-season. The big challenge for the Red Devils is replacing three senior captains, but the roster has 10 seniors.
"We will have a balanced attack with Cal Snyder, Anthony Marcucci and Richie Lozanoski who were three of the five triple-digit kill holders last season," Hinsdale Central coach Stephanie Kaegebein said. "Bryce Bernard will step up at setter and Gavin Schwarz will step into the libero role."
Downers Grove North is headlined by Fred Halper. The senior libero is set to play at Wittenberg University next season. Coach Mark Wasik said his team has the talent to make some noise in the playoffs.
"We should be a fairly strong defensive and passing team with setting much improved from a year ago," he said. "We should be able to bring a consistently formidable attack."
Downers Grove South is led by senior outside hitter Jack Tischler. A three-year varsity player, Tischler along with Anthony Figueroa and Brad Gall give Downers Grove South a solid trio.
Naperville North finished with an 18-19 record last season, but the Huskies bring back five starters from a team that suffered a three-set loss to Neuqua Valley in the regional finals. Senior outside hitter John Jaworski, who had 322 kills, 250 digs and 32 aces last season, committed to Clarke University. He will be joined by junior outside hitter Zach Vaughn, Connor Wojcik, Henry Zhous and Dillon Bramlett.
"We had many close losses last year because we lacked experience more than anything," Naperville North coach Nathan Bornancin said. "Now we are one of the most experienced teams in the area… . There is plenty of be excited about heading into the season."
Benet is a team to watch following a 27-win season. With senior libero Sean Becker, senior middle hitter Kevin Drazba, junior setter Matthew Degnan and sophomore outside hitter Augie Mazza, the Redwings are athletic but young. Becker had over 400 kills last season.
"Our boys will need to be willing to step up and work hard as a team with all the new faces that will be on the floor this year," Benet coach Jeff Steinberg said.
Metea Valley had its best season in program history last year, winning a regional before losing to Neuqua Valley in a sectional final. The Mustangs will miss Andrew Kohut and Matt Nealon, but outside hitter Connor Murphy and Ryan Owens form a solid duo.
"We have a challenging schedule, so we must grow up quickly in order to translate talent into success," Metea Valley coach John Aister said. "We're looking to build on what 2018 brought to the program and continue toward a deep playoff run."
Wheaton Warrenville South endured some growing pains last season, but coach Bill Schreier expects that to translate to more wins this year. Seven key players return along with four newcomers.
"This team will be tough to beat as they continue to work the right way and jell as a group," he said. "You may get us early, but I think we will be a tough out come playoff time as everyone buys into the process."
York returns plenty of firepower from last season's 20-15 team, led by senior outside hitter Pat Resing and senior libero Collin McCarville. The Dukes have 12 seniors on the team but lost some key starters from last year. McCarville is a player with a high upside after producing a standout junior seasons.
"Our depth will be a great strength," York coach Kenneth Dowd said. "Our attack should be one of the best we've had, with multiple options in that regard. Collin is the best libero I have ever coached. He gets to ball that I would never imagine he would get a touch on and it's primarily due to his soccer background."
-- Bobby Narang