Boys volleyball: Glenbard West rolls to championship at Glenbard East
Glenbard West looks like, well, Glenbard West.
The Hilltoppers played Saturday like the boys volleyball state championship contender they have been the past several years, rolling to the Springfest tournament championship at Glenbard East. They defeated Neuqua Valley 25-13, 25-13 in the final to remain undefeated.
"It was awesome," said Glenbard West junior Ben Harrington, who joined teammate Ryan Swartz on the all-tournament team. "We definitely finished what we wanted to finish. We wanted to win all of our games this weekend, obviously, and we wanted to prove that we deserve to be one of the top teams. I think the scores showed in that last match.
"Everybody played incredible. Neuqua Valley is a great team. They put up a great fight, but just everyone was working. All of our cylinders were working, and it was awesome."
Harrington had 7 kills and 2 blocks in the final, and Swartz added 7 kills, 4 aces and a block.
"This means a lot to us," Hilltoppers coach Christine Giunta-Mayer said. "We've been working so hard. We are working hard. We're very even with our junior-senior ratio, and so I think the seniors are really trying to get the juniors to understand how hard they worked last year, how hard it was to get where they were and how hard it's going to be moving forward. So we're just not letting up."
Glenbard West, which had its three-year state championship run end in 2018 when it placed third in the IHSA tournament, set the tone in the first set by taking leads of 8-2 and 13-4. Neuqua Valley (7-7) made Glenbard West uneasy to start the second set, forcing a Glenbard West timeout with the Hilltoppers leading 11-9. But the Hilltoppers outscored the Wildcats 14-4 the rest of the way.
"In the first set we were very calm," Harrington said, "and then that didn't really carry over to the second set. When they started scoring points on us again we kind of panicked. And once that timeout happened we brought it back together and were able to finish strong."
The Hilltoppers (9-0) never needed a third set in the tournament and never allowed more than 19 points in any set, winning all five tournament matches.
Lake Park (8-4) outlasted St. Francis (10-2) in a nip-and-tuck third-place match, winning 25-23, 24-26, 26-24.
"After a long day I think two teams were just battling every point," Lake Park coach Brian Fischer said. "I mean, you could tell how much it meant to both teams to earn a point."
The Lancers wouldn't mind seeing more of the Spartans.
"I hope so," Fischer said. "If we see them that means we're in the Gold Bracket at a lot of tournaments and (playing) in the end of the year."