Boys volleyball: Barrington shows its power in downing Hersey
Hersey and Barrington have squared off in some epic boys volleyball battles over the last few years, including frequent meetings in the Mid-Suburban League championship game.
So when Broncos senior outside hitter and team captain Gabe Hartke saw that the teams would be renewing acquaintances in the first match of the 2019 season on Barrington's home court, he was more than intrigued.
"I was ready to play this game," said Hartke. "We've both got very different lineups and different orientations on offense and defense this year, but we're both looking to improve as teams."
Tuesday night, it turned out to be advantage Broncos.
Barrington, which defeated Hersey in last year's MSL title game and advanced all the way to the Elite Eight, started strong by earning a 25-16, 25-19 MSL crossover win against the Huskies.
Broncos coach Rob Ridenour said that he was excited to be facing Hersey in the Tip-Off match.
"You always want to start off the season by playing a good team," said Ridenour. "They lost a lot of great players to graduation and so did we. We're trying to construct a squad that's similar to last year, from the standpoint of a team that plays great defense and keeps control of the ball. We'll be a work in progress but we'll get there."
"We're relentless on defense," added Hartke. "That's going to be our approach and our focus in the new season."
Hartke led his team with 9 kills and 4 digs, while classmate Kyle Vasquez, a libero, had 8 digs.
Carter Zagorski and Tim Nugent paced the Hersey attack with 4 kills apiece.
"Definitely a tough first match with a younger group," said first-year Hersey coach Laura Gerber. "We've got a new system that's going to take a little time getting used to, and we had some lack of communication on defense and serve receive.
"That made it hard on us. We were inconsistent on our hitting, but we ran some really nice offensive plays and we really battled tonight, especially late when we made a nice run."
Barrington, which never trailed at any point in the match, opened up a 14-7 first-set lead when middle hitter Luke Kolder won a 50-50 ball at the net.
Hersey was able to close to within 2 thanks to block kills from Zagorski and Nugent, but Barrington scored 6 of the next 7 points and went on to win the set.
The Broncos led set two by 7 points in the latter stages, but the Huskies rallied and after an Alec Naumowicz kill trailed only 20-18.
"We're a scrappy team, said Huskies senior Jakub Migus. "It doesn't matter how far down we get. That's the thing about our guys, they never give up."
Barrington quickly righted the ship on a kill by setter Ben Ridgway, and closed out the match on a winner from sophomore middle Mark Lyon.
Kolder posted 3 blocks and 2 aces for Barrington, while Migus had 8 assists and 5 digs for the Huskies.
"We lost five starters from last year," said Migus. "We knew this was going to be a tough opening match, but we just decided we were going to go out and open it up and see how much we could grow as a team. We've got Libertyville (a perennial state power) tomorrow night so with them and Barrington, it's a difficult way to start the year. But that's a good thing -- we can see what our weaknesses are and then come back even stronger."