Boys volleyball: Northwest Suburbs All-Area Team
Jackson Brossett Rolling MeadowsA three-year starter at setter for Rolling Meadows, Brossett had a stable of experienced hitters to work with last season. But when all of them graduated, Brossett returned this season to a group of very inexperienced hitters. "What Jackson did with these hitters, no seniors and very little varsity experience, was nothing short of amazing," Rolling Meadows coach Kevin Bourn said. "In a competitive MSL East, he got his team to a solid 5-5 record. His hitters have grown immensely because of his dedication and team-first attitude. He sees the court well and reads opposing defenses every play. Simply put, without Jackson's vision, toughness and hard work, our season would have been completely different." Brossett finished with 483 assists, 25 aces, 56 kills, 35 blocks and 60 digs.
Nathan Chung Prospect Chung played well beyond his years this season. "Even though Nathan is only a sophomore, he plays like he has more years of experience," Prospect coach Mike Riedy said. "He consistently does his job. He serves aggressively, serve receives a majority of balls coming over the net and is an instrumental force in our defense. He is a player who has the ability to always be in the right place at the right time." Chung served at a 91.5 percent clip with 26 aces. He also finished with 258 digs.
Nick DiMarco St. Viator DiMarco is a little different from your typical high school volleyball player. "Nick has not played club over the years, but no one would know based on how he presents himself on the court," St. Viator coach Katie Post said. "He is the type of player who backs up all he has to say with his play, making him a highly respected teammate. He is our leader in the backcourt, always giving every ounce of effort to keep a ball off the ground. What truly stands out about him is that he constantly remains focused on the game itself, thinking of ways on how to better the team overall." DiMarco had a total of 351 digs and 15 aces on the season. Against Zion-Benton, he rolled up a season-high 30 digs.
Marty Gross Buffalo GroveThere was a bug trying to infect every player on the Buffalo Grove volleyball team this season and head coach Tim Kosiek was all for it. It was the "Marty Gross defensive hustle bug." "Marty's defense ... well, it's contagious," Kosiek said. "I remember watching him a few years back as a JV player, chasing down balls, diving and enthusiastically generating an excitement on the court. It has been awesome watching that same contribution on the varsity. Marty is vocal, exciting to watch and a natural leader." Gross finished with more than 200 kills this season while rolling up 20 blocks and 14 aces.
Jason Hajdukovic FremdCall Hajdukovic a quick study. He competed in volleyball last year as a junior for the very first time. He wound up being a starter. This season, Hajdukovic made the MSL's all-conference team, finishing with the second-most kills on his team while leading the Vikings in blocks. "Jason is one of the most hardworking athletes I have coached," Fremd coach Curt Pinley said. "In the off-season, he put in the time to make himself a better athlete and his work paid off."
Gabe Hartke BarringtonWeaknesses weren't weaknesses for Hartke for long. "Gabe is unwilling to accept being average at a skill and the result has been his development as a complete player," Barrington coach Rob Ridenour said. "I have never seen a player so committed to turning any weakness into a strength. For example, passing and defense was an area of improvement for him during his sophomore and junior season. Through his dedication he has turned into an elite first-contact player." Hartke, who will be playing volleyball at Penn State next season, led Barrington in kills with 307. He had 202 digs, 41 blocks and 18 aces.
Joe Hernandez WheelingMaking the tough look easy is one thing that separates the good players from the great ones and Hernandez can make his job look easy. "He helps to steady our serve receive and makes the remarkable defensive play look ordinary," Wheeling coach Jason Kopkowski said. "Joe has been one of the best liberos for the past two seasons in the northwest suburbs. His ability to read the play, react and execute the touch is second to none." For the last two seasons, Hernandez has led Wheeling in digs and serving percentage. This year, he had 320 digs and a serving clip of 94.2 percent.
Jason Kemp LeydenOne of Leyden's most successful volleyball seasons in years had a lot to do with Kemp. "Jason is the type of leader and athlete that every coach wants on their team," Leyden coach Michele Mueller said. "He holds his teammates accountable and is a great leader on the floor. He is a great athlete and works hard to push himself and others. He is extremely competitive and brings that intensity to both practices and games and elevates our level of play every day." Under Kemp's direction, Leyden finished with 20 wins and placed second in conference for the first time in more than 15 years. Kemp led Leyden with 244 kills. He also had 111 digs and 21 blocks.
Thomas Lambke PalatineA libero, Lambke worked hard to perfect his skills. "He was constantly striving for perfection," Palatine coach Pete Gavin said. "Thomas constantly pushed his teammates to work harder and his work ethic was inspirational to our program. He was the anchor of our defense and a leader in the back row." Lambke passed at a 2.3 in serve receive on 323 serve receptions. He also had 185 digs and 9 service aces.
Curtis McLennan PalatineA four-year varsity starter with a passion for volleyball, McLennan wasn't going to let a shoulder injury slow him down this season. He battled through that adversity to lead the Pirates to a 30-win season. "In speaking with coaches and players who have been part of the Palatine volleyball program, no player has ever single-handedly impacted a volleyball season or match like Curtis has during his senior season," Palatine coach Pete Gavin said. "He battled the shoulder injury but found a way to continue to pick his teammates up regardless of his physical state." McLennan had nearly 300 kills and more than 800 for his career, tops in program history. He also racked up 32 blocks, 34 aces and 166 digs.
Martin Michalski FremdA three-year varsity starter and captain, Michalski has been busy over his career. "Marty has been a fixture on the court, rarely missing a point on the floor over his three-year tenure," Fremd coach Curt Pinley said. "He is one of the most intense players I have ever coached. His commitment and dedication is an example younger athletes can look to for inspiration." Michalski, voted Fremd's most valuable player, rolled up nearly 400 kills over his career and has been the program's leader in service aces over his career as well.
Jakub Migus Hersey Migus took his role as a leader in the program so seriously that he tried to be a positive influence with players not just from his own team, but from the underlevel teams. "Jakub has sat on the bench for every freshman match to motivate and cheer them on," Hersey coach Laura Gerber said. "He is a great role model for our younger players. He's an amazing leader in the way that he plays and how he is able to get his teammates to elevate their play." Migus, the co-player of the year for the MSL East Division, started and played in every match in Hersey's 5-1 offense and finished with 605 assists to go along with 126 digs, 50 kills, 29 blocks and 12 aces. "Jakub is a student of the game and can tell you what every opponent's strengths and weaknesses are," Gerber said. "He's always super positive and calm under any pressure situation. Any coach would love to have Jakub running their offense."
Tyler Morgan Leyden Morgan gave his team what it needed ... and often more. "I'd tell Tyler that I need some blocks and he'd go out and get three," Leyden coach Michele Mueller said. "Last year, Tyler started as our right side, but because of his growth athletically and our need for a middle, Tyler stepped up and made the transition. His quickness and vertical are two reasons why he has been extremely successful as a middle this year. Tyler has stepped into a very offensive role for our team and has gotten the job done. Every game, he comes up with big plays, kills or blocks that spark our team's energy and elevate our play." Morgan finished with 200 kills and 34 blocks.
Jared Moser Wheeling Moser will be playing both volleyball and golf next season at North Central. While Moser has a quiet confidence on the golf course, he makes a loud statement on the volleyball court with his hard, thunderous kills. The MSL East co-player of the year, Moser rolled up nearly 400 kills this season. "He had a single-season best with 26 kills against Hersey and is a threat on the court no matter where he is attacking the ball from," Wheeling coach Jason Kopkowski said of Moser, a starter on the varsity since his sophomore year. Moser also had 19 blocks and 166 digs this season.
Tim Nugent Hersey Nugent can put some heat on the ball, both on hits and serves. "Tim almost tied the school record when he had 7 aces in one match this season against Lake Forest," Hersey coach Laura Gerber said. "We are hoping he breaks the record next year." Nugent led the Huskies in both kills (213) and aces (25) this season. "Tim is relaxed under pressure," Gerber said. "And he is the most consistent hitter."
Ryan Regier SchaumburgAs Schaumburg's leader in almost every statistical category, Regier was almost always on. But he seemed to turn up the volume when the lights were brightest. "Ryan was an all-around force on the volleyball court with a competitive edge that helped to drive our team forward in difficult matches," Schaumburg coach Eric Melton said. "He had his strongest play against some of the most difficult competition on our schedule." Regier topped the Saxons in kills, aces, digs and passing percentage.
Danny Rice Maine West Rice was a crowd pleaser. At 6-foot-7, he could get high above the net and send his hits screeching to the floor. "Danny had some serious kills this season where he was able to bounce them well in front of the 10-foot line," Maine West coach Mike OBrill said. "Over the course of his three years on varsity, each year he became more productive on the court and his stats backed that up." Rice led Maine West with 160 kills and was second on the team with 105 blocks. Rice, a three-sport athlete (basketball and golf), will be playing basketball and golf next year at St. Ambrose.
Ben Rinella PalatineA student of the game, Rinella showed his knowledge every time he took the court as Palatine's setter, a position in which he held the starting spot for three years. "Ben knows the game better than any player I have ever coached," Palatine coach Pete Gavin said. "He is a calming presence who never gets rattled. Ben understands the flow of a game and knows who to give the ball to at the right time." Rinella played in all 73 sets for Palatine this season and rolled up 720 assists, 35 aces, 157 digs and 57 kills. He will be playing at St. Norbert College next year.
Ethan Soifer Buffalo GroveFrom being a key player on the basketball team, Soifer seamlessly transitioned into the same role on the volleyball team. Soifer led Buffalo Grove in both hitting (275-plus kills) and serving (25 aces). "His composure throughout the season and his ability to perform at a consistently high level has been a foundation to our team's success," Buffalo Grove coach Tim Kosiek said. "He has an incredibly consistent jump serve paired with great serve receive statistics as well. As a hitter, Ethan is versatile and has the ability to see the court, find opportunities and attack the defense. He has left a lasting impact on this program." Soifer also had 42 blocks this season.
Nick Stasch Maine WestMaine West went from a 6-2 offense last year to a 5-1 offense this year and Stasch, the team's setter, made the transition seamlessly and seemed to flourish with the added responsibility. "Nick lives and breathes volleyball and is the smartest volleyball player I have ever coached," Maine West coach OBrill said. "He makes great decisions on the court and balances our attacks, which showed in the stats having four players well over 100 kills and one more at nearly 100." Stasch averaged 17 assists per match and led the team with 22 aces. He finished with 584 assists on the season with a 45 percent setting efficiency. He also had 62 blocks. Stasch will play next year at Marian University.
Kyle Vasquez Barrington Vasquez showed his versatility this season, shifting from libero to setter on a dime. "Kyle was an all-conference and all-area libero last year as a junior for our state qualifier. He's a top 5 libero in the state this year and played the first half of the season for us in that position," Barrington coach Rob Ridenour said. "In mid-April, he became our starting setter. He hadn't set since his freshman year and wildly surpassed our expectations. His setting allowed us to increase our tempo and raised our team hitting percentage over 100 points. He's elite at two of the most important positions on the court." Vasquez, who will be playing at Benedictine next year, had 507 assists, 215 digs and 15 aces this season.
Waris Walia Conant Walia was a "go-to" on both offense and defense for the Cougars. "Waris was definitely our go-to player for a kill, both front row and back row," Conant coach J.C. Brown said. "He was my go-to blocker against our opponents' best outside hitter." Walia was Conant's most valuable player after leading the team in kills and blocks. In one of his most impressive performances of the season, Walia had 19 kills and 3 solo blocks in a 3-set match against rival Hoffman Estates.
Mark Wickstrom Elk GroveAt 6-foot-8, Wickstrom gets plenty of notice anyway. But on the volleyball court, defenses are extra focused on setting up tough blocks in an effort to neutralize him. But even that doesn't always work on the hard-hitting outside hitter. "Mark has been able to excel on the court even though teams keyed in on him, including being triple blocked," Elk Grove coach Dan Windholz said. Wickstrom is also starting to get noticed by Division I college volleyball coaches. "Division I coaches are showing interest as well as many Division II schools," Windholz said. "Mark is a great leader for our team, in practice and by example on the court." Wickstrom finished with 213 kills, 167 digs, 39 blocks and 38 aces.
Carter Zagorski HerseyThe 16 kills that Zagorski rolled up in an important MSL East match against Buffalo Grove showed what an offensive force he can be. But Zagorski was more than just a big hitter this season. "Carter is our strongest passer on serve receive with his hands and platform," Hersey coach Laura Gerber said. Over his two-year varsity career, Zagorski had 176 kills, 162 digs, 26 blocks and 24 aces. "Carter has a great attitude and he never gives up," Gerber said.
St. Viator middle hitter Tim Allaire, senior; Barrington libero Chris Babicz, senior; Wheeling middle hitter Jan Baranowski, senior; Rolling Meadows libero Charlie Behrens, senior; St. Viator middle hitter George Bowman, senior; Hoffman Estates opposite hitter David Butler, sophomore; Maine West middle hitter Dorin Drimboi, senior; Leyden libero Jesse Federico, senior; Barrington middle hitter Ricky Gibson, senior; Hersey middle hitter Brent Gurvis, senior; Palatine middle hitter Nate Jones, junior; Palatine opposite hitter Timmy Matijevic, junior; Maine West outside hitter Luke Meier, senior; Prospect outside hitter Ben Miller, senior; Rolling Meadows middle hitter Braden Muhr, junior; Barrington opposite hitter Ben Ridgway, junior; Maine West outside hitter Jacob Riedl, junior; Maine West outside hitter Mason Robbins, senior; Palatine outside hitter Aaron Spaletto, senior; St. Viator outside hitter John Zajakala, sophomore