Boys volleyball: Powerful Glenbard West downs Palatine, heads to state again
It takes a village to build the kind of success that Glenbard West's boys volleyball team has had in recent years.
And it was that village of players that Glenbard West leaned on Tuesday in the sectional finals at Fremd to oust Palatine 25-17, 25-22.
Glenbard West (36-3) will meet conference rival Hinsdale Central in the state quarterfinals Friday at 11:30 a.m. at Hoffman Estates.
Glenbard West showed off its balance against Palatine on Tuesday. The Hilltoppers had five different players with 4 kills or more, making it tough for the Pirates to defend.
"I think that has made us dangerous all year," said Glenbard West coach Christine Giunta Meyer, whose team earned its sixth consecutive trip to the state finals.
"We don't have that one guy. We move the ball around. If something doesn't work they are not afraid to hit it again. I love that about this team. They don't have any selfishness in them."
Glenbard West setter Henry Curtis, who had 22 assists, did an outstanding job of getting the ball to Ryan Swartz (6 kills), Connor Willam (6 kills), Nico Cavalcante (5 kills) and Diego Guzman (4 kills).
"We try to get as many favorable matchups as we could," said Curtis, who also had 5 kills. "But they are a real good blocking team. Eventually it came down to who got past the nitty-gritty at the end."
Glenbard West broke away from a 15-14 lead in the first set. The Hilltoppers ran off 5 unanswered points on their way to an 8-1 run to win going away 25-17.
The second set was tight throughout.
The teams battled to a 22-22 tie thanks to the play of Cavalcante. The Pirates them committed their sixth service error of the set and 12th of the match. Curtis finished off the game with a pair of kills to give the Hilltoppers the title.
"We really got the middles going in the end," Cavalcante said. "We just spread the net out. We don't want to be too predicable, because once we do that, other teams are going to key on that player.
It was a tough finish for a glorious first year for Palatine head coach Pete Gavin, whose Pirates (33-5) advanced to the sectional finals for the first time since 2004 when they finished fourth in the state. Gavin, who was the setter on that team, said that this 2019 team will be difficult for him to forget.
"This is a special group," Gavin said. "For my first season coaching they have set the mark pretty high. It is a group I will never forget."
Palatine, which was led by Curtis McLennan (11 kills), Tim Matijevic (6 kills) and Nate Jones (5 kills), along with Ben Rinella, Aaron Spaletto and Thomas Lambke had another huge crowd to see the Pirates play on Tuesday.
"We felt that even though it did not end the way we wanted we still left it on the court with how we played," McLennan said. "It was a great season. I feel that we kind of made an impact on everyone in the school and the community. It is kind of reflective of the people that show up in the crowds."