Boys volleyball: Glenbrook North outlasts Lake Park for 1st state title
It was a year in the making.
And no one from the Glenbrook North volleyball team forgets to acknowledge that.
The Spartans won the IHSA boys state volleyball championship on Saturday afternoon by outlasting Lake Park in an emotional and hotly contested 3-set match (25-22, 18-25, 25-19), but they say the victory has a lot to do with some of the fans in the stands.
Many of the seniors from last year's team who didn't get their final season due to the COVID shutdowns have been faithfully following Glenbrook North at each game ever since they returned from college this spring.
Glenbrook North coach Chris Cooper, getting his first state championship in his 18th season at the helm, says his players seemed motivated all year to win for last year's seniors.
"It's really great to see how the guys from last year are still following the team," said Cooper, whose current team not only secured the school's first boys volleyball state championship but also capped a perfect, undefeated season (25-0).
The Spartans, who got a team-high 7 kills from Yoel Gros and 5 kills from the Loyola-bound Klaud Rydzy, needed to draw on those good habits during the rigors of a championship match that was mostly roller coaster ride.
After coming out strong in the first set, the Spartans saw an inspired and resilient Lake Park team scratch out point after tough point in the second set.
"It was about the energy," said Lake Park outside hitter Josh Schellinger, who will be playing at California-San Diego next year. "The first set, you could tell the energy was 100 percent a lot lower than when we started the second set. That was the main thing. Energy creates a lot more opportunities."
Schellinger, who racked up a match-high 16 kills, rallied his teammates after the first set and tried to fire them up in the huddle along the sideline.
"I just said, 'This is our last game no matter what, so why not give our all,'" Schellinger said. "I just wanted to put some fire into my teammates. You could tell we were looking defeated and I think it did work because we came back in that second set. But it just wasn't enough."
Glenbrook North got off to a 5-0 start in the third set. But as they had all match, the Lancers clawed back, tying the score multiple times before the final tie of the match at 16-16.
Glenbrook North outscored Lake Park 9-3 to close out the game on strong serving by setter Louie Batang and libero Paul Wyszynski and some big kills by Mason Durst.
"We put ourselves in a couple too many holes, for sure," said Lake Park coach Brian Fischer, whose team finished with a 25-2 record. "But you can't deny the fight these kids had and how bad they wanted it. You could see it on their faces. It hurts and it will hurt for a while.
"But we fought to the bitter end. I can't be more proud of this group. They're a special group. They're going to be remembered for a long time."
Brendan Gibbons added 8 kills for Lake Park while setter Elijah Wrobel had 29 assists. Schellinger also led in digs with 13.
Host Glenbard West earned a third-place finish on its own court. The Hilltoppers swept Lincoln-Way East in the third-place game, 25-14, 25-15. Glenbard West wrapped up a 36-3 campaign. Danny Pasinski led the way with 13 kills. Setter Tommy Lohman finished with 20 assists and Kenny Gibson had 10 digs.
Lincoln-Way East (22-6) got 4 kills from Tyler Walenga, 9 assists from Owen Morrow and 6 digs from Sam Szafoni.