Titans boys volleyball tops Spartans in 'nice little preview'

Tuesday's boys volleyball match whet the appetite for more between the Glenbrooks.

On May 16 Glenbrook South beat host Glenbrook North in three games, 25-21, 23-25, 25-21. Glenbrook South is the No. 1 seed and Glenbrook North No. 2 at the Glenbrook North sectional, which starts with regional play beginning May 22.

"It's kind of a nice little preview for us," said Titans fourth-year coach Annie Kotsadam who, like her players, won for the first time on the Northbrook court.

"They're down a player right now (injured Spartans senior Paul Cho), I think it's going to make a difference in their team," she said. "It'll change the look of the game, but it's great to see this kind of high-intensity, great atmosphere here. It's great to see our boys step up when they needed to."

  Glenbrook North boys volleyball coach Chris Cooper talks to Spartans team members during Tuesday's home volleyball match against Glenbrook South. Joe Lewnard/

Kris Blumberg was among a big three at the net for the Titans with 12 kills and 5 digs, joining Chance Shampine (11 kills, 13 digs) and Alex Rupprecht (6 kills, 6 digs). Setter James Ganzorig dished out 33 assists.

"I found the ball, set the hitters, all they did was hit the ball. Yeah, they got it done," Ganzorig said.

Glenbrook South (32-1, 10-0) had already clinched its first Central Suburban League title since 2013. In the most recent 1st Alliance VBC/Illinois Prep Volleyball rankings compiled by Phil Brozynski, the Titans were fourth in the state behind Glenbard West, Marist and Lincoln-Way East. Brozynski had Glenbrook North (19-8, 6-4) at No. 8.

"We worked really hard all season to get our No. 1 sectional spot, so playing a team like North, at their home - their home crowd is always tough, but we pulled through. It was a good team effort," Blumberg said.

  Glenbrook South's Chance Shampine tips the ball over the net during Tuesday's boys volleyball match at Glenbrook North. Joe Lewnard/

Despite the loss, Glenbrook North coach Chris Cooper thought the same thing. The last time the rivals played Glenbrook South won in two games, 25-20, 25-19.

"It was a marked improvement over the first time we played them," said Cooper, whose club won the 2021 state title. "The first time we played them was right after Paul got injured, and so we've had a few weeks now to practice with the lineup that we've had, and I think the guys really showed a lot of heart, a lot of energy, more so than we did the first time. It was fun to watch."

Spiking Spartans Connor Durst and Evan Uhlig each had 13 kills, with defensive specialist Jacob Phillips coming up with 10 digs. Senior Colin Schaefer racked up 33 assists, 7 digs and 2 blocks.

"We didn't play to our fullest potential the first set, but I think overall we played really good," Schaefer said. "I think it's just better on the passing side, which is definitely what we've been working on in practice. It's been a lot better, and I do think we can beat them if we do see them on the road to state."

North led early in the first game until Jaki Erdene's ace serve tied the score 8-8 and outside hitter Rupprecht found a hole for a 9-8 Titans lead. Chris Lee's serving run spread the lead to 18-12 and from there it was a matter of holding on.

  Glenbrook North's Kyle Piesert handles a Glenbrook South serve during Tuesday's boys volleyball match in Northbrook. Joe Lewnard/

Game 2 was closer still, no more than a 4-point separation throughout. Schaefer had a brief scoring run in the middle of it, then he broke the last tie, 17-17, with a block that energized the Spartans.

"Good serving runs like Schaefer had really sways our energy and gets us fired up," Durst said. "I think once we took the lead there in the second set we really felt that we could win. Once we felt that we just kept playing hard."

Graham Gottschild hit a hole in the middle for a 22-18 Glenbrook North lead that forced a Titans timeout. Though a Shampine dink pulled Glenbrook South within 24-23, Glenbrook North's Uhlig scored down the left sideline for the 25-23 win.

  Glenbrook North's Ben Schoenberg serves during Tuesday's boys volleyball match against Glenbrook South. Joe Lewnard/

Other than a 1-1 tie Glenbrook South led Game 3 all the way. The game threatened to get away from Glenbrook North, trailing 16-10, but Durst, Uhlig and a sneaky kill by Lance Lai helped bring the Spartans back within 23-21 before South put it away.

"We weren't passing our best this game, but we found offensive options throughout the game even when our passing wasn't the best. We made things work when it wasn't our day," Blumberg said.

While Cooper said Cho is trying to return from a foot injury, the coach likes his group even if the setter and right-side hitter can't make it back for the playoffs.

"If he doesn't, I'm confident with this lineup," Cooper said. "Our guys have really started to play well in this lineup, too. Either way I like our chances to hopefully get back to the sectional final against them."

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.