Boys volleyball: Cyze steps up in Montini triumph over St. Edward

By Bobby Narang
Daily Herald Correspondent

Montini boys volleyball coach Brian Opoka was looking for future leaders in his program.

Last season, when the Broncos went on a program road trip for a match against Illiana Christian, Opoka challenged every player on his roster.

"I asked them what they could do to help us improve our program," Opoka recalled. "Daniel Cyze took me up on it, hook, line and sinker. It was a wonderful bus trip. I brought all the kids to the front of the bus and talked to them on what they needed to do. Not everybody takes full advantage, but a couple of guys, like Danny, wound up really exploding -- plus he grew an inch or 2 over the summer."

From then Cyze, now a sophomore outside hitter, has been a standout performer in Montini's quest to better last season's program record 21 wins. The Broncos -- and Cyze -- are on the right track.

The 6-foot-3 Cyze tallied a match-best 10 kills in Montini's 25-9, 25-19 victory over St. Edward on Friday in Lombard. Mark Zheng added 8 kills and Kristian Paul Daarol finished with 22 assists. The Broncos (7-4) suffered a big loss when Abe Husmillo suffered a left ankle injury in the first game. As a team, the Broncos compiled 7 aces.

"Danny has now grown into his body," Opoka said. "He was kind of a baby bear last year. He's the full package. The kids can see the commitment he has put into volleyball, and he was voted a team captain and they rally around him and look for him to make plays."

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Cyze had his imprint all over Friday's victory over the Green Wave (0-2). He had three straight kills to give the Broncos a 22-9 lead in the opening game. He opened the second game with consecutive kills and an ace, then helped stop a Green Wave uprising with a kill for a 23-18 lead.

Cyze played on the JV last season. He started playing volleyball in fifth grade with his older brother, William Cyze, a junior outside hitter.

"I learned a lot playing in the back row last year," Daniel Cyze said. "I didn't expect to be a (captain) this year. I'm very excited for the rest of the year. I'm hoping we do really well."

The Green Wave managed to cut the deficit to 21-18 in the second game before the younger Cyze took control to put it away.

"They played a lot better in the second game," St. Edward coach Karla Aguirre said. "There are a lot of things we still need to work on, but overall I think we have a pretty good team this year and am excited for the things we can do."

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