Boys volleyball: Libertyville snaps Buffalo Grove's 17-match win streak to take tourney title
Libertyville dug deep Saturday and came away with a tournament championship.
Minutes after a draining 3-set victory over Joliet West in the semifinals of the Palatine-Schaumburg boys volleyball invitational, the Wildcats took the court to face Buffalo Grove -- a team that rolled in with a 17-match winning streak -- in the title contest.
Libertyville was up to the challenge as they outlasted the Bison 25-16, 22-25, 25-19.
"We were riding high after that win against Joliet," said Libertyville coach Jenny Smith. "They're a great team, and we came out hot against Buffalo Grove, (especially) with blocks and kills. They (BG) have a huge front line, and we kind of kept them from doing what they wanted to do.
"I told the boys today that win or lose, we were going to get to play some great teams, and hopefully elevate our play and rise to the occasion."
Smith added that it might have been a recent team meeting that led to their high level of play in the invitational.
"We had just lost a conference game (to Mundelein), and we sat down and talked -- about how we wanted to be playing on the court together, and about turning over a new leaf. They stepped up and this is the best they've played all season."
Buffalo Grove's title match defeat was their only loss of the invite, as they had swept their first four games with wins over Maine West, Carmel, Grant and Fremd.
The Bison are now 20-3 on the season and coach Tim Kosiek says that all of the credit is due to teamwork.
"We do have some standouts," said Kosiek, "but the reality is everyone on our team is so talented. We spread it out, and that's what makes us so successful."
Connor Dell finished with 48 kills in the invite for the Bison. Dan Feder added 39 kills, while Piotr Wymoczyl had 30 kills and 10 aces.
"Our outsides have been incredible (this season)," said Kosiek. "Dan and Connor are splitting that responsibility so we're not leaning too heavily on one. Piotr has been a standout in the middle and Colin Shin is amazing and jumps through the roof.
"We were excited for this tournament, because we knew we'd be playing against high-caliber teams. We were focused on looking at our weaknesses and what we need to develop, working on details that we've been working on all season."
Fremd won third place with a 25-20, 16-25, 26-24 win over Joliet West. The only blemish for the Vikings was a grueling 3-set loss to the Bison in the semifinals.
Hersey went 4-1 in the tournament, with their only defeat coming at the hands of Joliet West, while Maine West was 3-2. Kacper Pogorzelski led the way for the Warriors with 77 assists, 8 blocks, 14 digs and 4 aces.
Prospect scored wins over Maine East and Palatine in pool play; the Pirates almost derailed Libertyville's championship hopes with a victory over the Wildcats in Pool B; while Schaumburg earned a couple of wins over the two days, with pool play contested Friday night and the playoffs Saturday.
For champion Libertyville, senior Patrick Akers paced the team with 42 kills, 14 blocks and 35 digs.
Aleks Slesers pitched in with 42 digs and 11 aces while teammates Reece Wiatrowski (36 digs), Chase Bonder (24 kills, 21 blocks), Ethan Lindberg (67 assists) and Luis Correa (54 assists) gave a big boost to the winners.
"Honestly, we've had some ups and downs this season," said Smith. "This was our first tournament, and I wasn't totally sure how we were going to do, but I was very pleased with how we performed."
"It was beautiful outside today," added Smith with a laugh, referring to Saturday's warm weather, "so if you've got to be inside in the gym, you might as well win, right?"