Boys volleyball: MSL title match set: Prospect vs. Barrington
As things start to return to varying degrees of normalcy related to the pandemic, some familiar staples are returning in the high school boys volleyball realm in the Northwest suburbs.
The Mid-Suburban League will crown an overall MSL champion Thursday, June 3 when East Division champ Prospect (9-1 MSL East) hosts West Division kingpin Barrington meet at 7 p.m. at Prospect. Barrington drew a No. 2 sectional seed for the IHSA postseason (Lake Park sectional), while Prospect drew an 11 seed working out of the Glenbrook North sectional.
"We have improved at playing as a team," Prospect coach Mike Riedy said. "We found great success when they come together and everyone does their job. We struggled early in the season when there were six individuals on the floor. Now, there is one team."
Junior outside hitter Ryan Uemura leads the team in kills with 157, while senior libero Nathan Chung, the MSL East Player of the Year, has 162 digs. Senior setter Logan Hiskes has 341 assists. That trio represents a key service component for the Knights -- each has 10 or more aces.
"Ryan has a high level of play and a very high volleyball IQ," Riedy said. "Nathan is the best libero I have ever coached and one of the best overall players I have ever coached. He is quiet, but deadly. Logan was thrust into the setter's role at the beginning of the season and has taken that responsibility and run with it."
Two other keys for Prospect have been outside hitter Danny McKenna and Kevin Slawicki. "At the beginning of a number of matches, Danny struggled," Riedy noted. "Halfway though the set he gets in the groove and starts destroying other teams on the outside. For four years on varsity, Kevin has done nothing flashy, but he simply gets the job done. He is an unsung hero."
Defense has been a big improvement for the Huskies of late. "Our defense has really come on in the last couple weeks," Hersey coach Laura Gerber said. "We are blocking and controlling the net much better than earlier in the year."
Big contributors for Gerber have been senior libero Lucas Irwin (185 digs, 44 assists), junior outside Nate Meyer (169 kills, 82 digs), senior outside Drew Zagorski (158 kills, 87 digs) and senior setter Chris Chacko (246 assists, 64 digs). Evan Naumowicz also has played well, Gerber noted.
Rolling Meadows update:
The Mustangs went 7-3 in MSL East play this season thanks to players such as junior setter Carter Powers and junior libero Ariel Martinez. "Carter recently had his role on the court doubled when we decided to keep him in the front row as a hitter, in addition to his previous back row-only setting duties. He sees the court very well and always seems to be aware of the situation on both sides of the net," Meadows coach Kevin Bourn said. "Ariel has been an integral part of our defense and serving game. He has taken on more responsibility to play more aggressively and go take any ball he can get. He has also quietly become one of our top servers."
St. Viator update:
The Lions, who start East Suburban Catholic tournament play next Friday, have been bolstered by the recent play of John Zajakala, who had recent kill totals of 12, 13 and 21 (a career high and third-most in school history). That run earned him AVCA and MaxPreps Illinois player of the week honors. Ronan Valera (19 digs and 5 aces in a recent match) and Aidan Harrington (career-high 41 assists recently; second most in program history) also are opening plenty of opposing-court eyes.
Saxons coach Tim Murphy lauded the recent play of senior captains Ryan Luecht (setter) and Ryan Muldoon (right-side hitter).
Senior outside Sean Beckman has drawn high praise from Cougars' coach J.C. Brown of late. "Sean is our go-to hitter whether in the front row or back row," he said. Junior setter Dhruv Patel is also progressing nicely. "He has become consistent and is earning his way to play all the way around instead of subbing in a 6-2 offense," Brown added.
Key contributors of late for the Eagles include junior setter Angel Linares (56 assists), senior right side Gustavo Sanchez (16 kills, 16 digs), senior middle Gabriel Mireles (12 kills) and junior outside hitter Alec Bunag (23 digs, 15 kills).
Maine East update:
Senior outside Alex Chapovalov leads the team in kills, while Ben Salemi is tops in blocks. Chapovalov had 12 kills against Maine West. Christian Bobila, Glenn Reyes and Gavin Bujdei were lights out in the back row against Evanston. Maine East recently played the state's No. 1, No. 4 and No. 19 ranked teams in a 10-day stretch.
Maine South update:
Coach Gary Granell said the insertion of senior outside Josh Budzynski in the starting lineup has added important stability and an increased energy level. Other key Hawks' contributors include senior outside Brian Farrell, junior libero Chris Karnezis, senior setter John Ciprian and senior right side Brendan Mullen.
Maine West update:
Coach Mike OBrill said libero Ozzie Bashir has been a big factor of late with his omnipresence and high-energy motor. Junior 6-6 right side Marcin Siergiej, the coach added, has found his offensive rhythm and has gotten his timing down with his setter.