Has the reign of Lincoln-Way East and Lincoln-Way North in the south suburbs ended?
It's about that time to look ahead to the 2015 boys volleyball season. A few familiar names are missing from the ranks of the teams to watch, including Lincoln-Way East, Lincoln-Way North, Lake Park and Naperville Central. All suffered heavy graduation losses.
Not so at Glenbard West, which loses outside hitter Kyle Blaine and libero Alec Garwood but not much else from its third-place finisher. New Trier also welcomes back most of its major players, minus 6-7 senior middle Jack Serrino.
It will be a different looking season, that much is certain. Or will it? Isn't about time for Wheaton Warrenville South to win another state title?
Here is a look at some of the top teams and players - but let me emphasize, SOME, NOT ALL of the top teams and players - for 2015:
1. Glenbard West (35-7) - The Hilltoppers' should enter the 2015 season as the state's No. 1 team after their third-place finish at state. Back from that team will be 6-4 sophomore setter Paulie Bischoff, (757 assists), 6-4 sophomore outside hitter Kyler Kotsakis (292 kills), 6-4 junior middle Parker Swartz, 6-4 junior opposite Jackson Nagle(199 kills), 6-4 sophomore middle Will Church and 5-9 junior defensive specialist Ryan Condon.
2. New Trier (32-8) - The Trevians should make another run at the state quarterfinals behind 6-1 sophomore outside Peter Hindsley (243 kills), 6-2 junior outside Henry Levee, 6-4 junior middle Andrew Sommer, 6-1 sophomore outside hitter Henry Lindstrom, junior libero Brian Hammes and perhaps the state's best setter in 6-3 junior Dante Chakravorti (656 assists, 68 kills), who will spend part of his summer training with the U.S. Boys' Youth National Training Team.
3. Benet (25-12) - The Redwings have a long time to play "what if?" What if 6-11 Ricky Gevis wasn't lost for the season due to injury? Could it have been Benet and not Glenbard West raising a trophy at state? We'll never know, but Benet could be a problem for Glenbard West's title bid in 2015 with sophomore libero Logan Ladowski, 6-5 junior outside Mark Schuessler, 6-2 junior outside Scott Kleiser, 6-3 sophomore setter Jackson Van Eekeren and 6-0 sophomore setter Ben Maaza.
4. Barrington (28-9) -Back from their 2014 Mid-Suburban League championship and sectional finalist team will be junior setter Noah Ricchetti, junior outsides twins Adam and Justin Glader and 6-7 sophomore Ethan Carroll. Offense was never a problem for the Broncos in 2014. Passing? That's another issue. Coach Rob Ridenour will be looking for an entirely new backrow in the spring after the graduation of Indy Nenn, Tommy Soifer and Carl Lening.
5. Buffalo Grove (23-14) - The Bison were up and down in 2014, finishing behind Hersey in the Mid-Suburban East before reaching the sectional semifinals. But that was a product of youth. A little seasoning is all that Matt Aiello's troops needed. A year older and year wiser in 2015 will be 6-7 junior outside Athan Cruz, 6-5 junior Alex Franz, junior libero Tullio Ruscitti, sophomore setter Zach Schnittker and 6-0 junior outside Kevin Shanahan.
6. Glenbard East (24-13) - The Rams reached the regional finals in 2014 before falling to senior-dominated St. Francis. But Marci Maier's boys should be back again in 2015 with the Symonds' twins - 6-1 junior outside Nick and 6-1 junior defensive specialist Ben - 6-2 junior middle Adam Eboli, and 5-9 junior setter Andrew Hurlburt. The group will be bolstered by a junior varsity team that went undefeated under the guidance of assistant coach Kassie Soderstrom.
7. Wheaton Warrenville South (23-14) - Replacing 6-6 senior outside Jared Wilcox and his 400-plus kills won't be easy. But at least the Tigers won't be starting from scratch. Bill Schreier will rebuild with 5-10 junior setter Ben Carpio, 5-11 junior libero John Hildebrand, 6-2 junior outside hitter Kolbie Knorr, 6-4 junior middle Jerry Lear, 6-4 sophomore outside Zach Meyer and 6-1 junior outside Kyle McCarthy. History? State champions in 2012, the Tigers have never gone more than three years without a state title since 2001.
8. Addison Trail (33-5) -Any time there is a player on your roster named Alex Dickmann, you have a chance to win a lot of matchers. Dickmann, who has more than 900 kills in his career, returns for one more season after leading the Blazers to the sectional semifinals against Lake Park. Other veterans returning in 2015 include junior middle Jack Vrchota, sophomore middle Kannon Nelms, junior setter Joe Nasti and junior defensive specialist Zach Vaca.
9. Vernon Hills (28-10) - Injuries and other maladies befell the Cougars in 2014, leading to a second consecutive loss to Deerfield in the sectional semifinals. But coach Chris Curry has some pieces with which to rebuild in 2015, including 6-5 junior middle Lem Turner, junior hitter Dylan DeBoer and 6-4 junior middle Jack Brandl. Sophomore setter Jared Bennett got a ton of experience while Ryan Opitz was out for half the season,
10. Lincoln-Way West (26-8) - Isn't it time for the Warriors to flex their muscles in the land of the Lincoln-Ways? One of the best players in Illinois, 6-3 junior Michael Wexter sets and hits and does everything but sell programs and dispense popcorn. He'll get help from middle blocker Jake Gasparich, junior libero Jake Martin and sophomore outside hitter Scott Christensen.
Others: Sandburg, Downers Grove North, Hersey, Libertyville, Loyola, West Chicago, Bolingbrook, Waubonsie Valley, West Aurora, Zion-Benton.
Players to watch:
Chris Akers, 6-0, Jr., OH, Libertyville
Enrique Barajas, 5-9, Jr., S. Bolingbrook
Paulie Bischoff, 6-4, So., S. Glenbard West
Wes Blodig, 6-4, Jr., OH, Glenbrook South
Jackson Burton, 6-4, Jr., OH, Naperville Central
Nicholas Buseski, 6-8, Jr., OH, Geneva
Bob Chatterton, 6-6, Jr., MH, Glenbrook North
Dante Chakravorti, 6-3, Jr., S, New Trier
Alex Dickmann, 6-4, Jr., OH, Addison Trail
Paul Chmura, 6-1, Jr., OH, Sandburg
Dylan DeBoer, 6-4, Jr., OH, Vernon Hills
Max Donovan, 6-4, So., MH, Payton
Peter Feely, 6-6, Jr., MH, Libertyville
Kyle Fitzgerald, 6-3, Jr., MH, Zion-Benton
Jake Furman, 5-11, So., S, Waubonsie Valley
Max Haberkorn, 6-7, Jr., MH, Loyola
Brian Hammes, 5-10, Jr., L, New Trier
Peter Hindsley, 6-1, So., OH, New Trier
Connor Hipelius, 6-7, Jr., MH, LIncoln-Way Central
Ari Hoffman, Jr., MH, Highland Park
Scott, Kleiser, 6-2, Jr., OH, Benet
Kyler Kotsakis, 6-4, So., OH, Glenbard West
Ray Kraus, Jr., S, Elk Grove
Connor Kreb, 6-2, Jr., OH, Loyola
Eryk Krzyzak, 6-1, Jr., OH, Prospect
Logan Ladowski, 5-9, So., L, Benet
Nicholas Lau, 5-8, Jr., OH, Young
Max Lawrence, 6-3, Jr., MH, Lincoln-Way North
Jack Lenert, 6-3, Jr., OH, Naperville North
Henry LeVee, 6-2, Jr., OH, New Trier
Evan Lindley, 6-4, So., OPP, Evanston
Henry Lindstrom, 6-1, So., OH, New Trier
Grant Maleski, 6-7, Fr., OH, Stevenson
Lerin Mathew, 6-1, Jr., OH, Maine East
Kasper Mazurek, 6-3, Jr., OPP, Naperville Central
Jakub Mazurek, 6-6, Jr., MH. Loyola
Ben Mazza, 6-0, So., S, Benet
Robert McCoy, 6-5, Jr., MH, Eisenhower
Marshall McElvogue, 6-3, Jr., MH. Lyons
Alex McKinney, 6-5, So., MH, Metea Valley
Colin Michels, 5-6, Jr., L, Downers Grove North
Michal Mierzwa, 6-3, Jr., MH, Downers Grove North
Bart Migus, 6-5, Jr., OH, Hersey
Tyler Mitchem, 6-7, So., MH, Bolingbrook
Jackson Nagle, 6-4, Jr., OH, Glenbard West
Austin Neace, 6-4, Jr., OH, Neuqua Valley
Kannon Nelms, 6-5, So., MB, Addison Trial
Alan Nguyen, 6-1, Jr., OH, Young
Devin Oliver, 6-7, Jr., MH, Bolingbrook
Kian Peterson, 6-1, Jr., S., Hinsdale Central
Elijah Pinkevich, 6-1, Fr., OH, West Chicago
Jonathan Portinga, 6-5, Jr., MH, Downers Grove North
Michael Quiroz, 5-10, Jr., S, West Chicago
Pawel Rafalo, 6-6, Jr., MB, Glenbrook South
Blake Reardon,. 6-3, Jr., OH, Joliet Catholic
Andrew Salmon, 5-11, Jr., L, Waubonsie Valley
Ryan Schiller, Jr., MH, St. Viator
Mark Schuessler, 6-5, Jr., OH, Benet
Spencer Scott, 6-4, Jr., MH, Brother Rice
Kevin Shanahan, 6-1, Jr., OH, Buffalo Grove
Dalton Solbring, 6-4, Jr., MH, Lakes
Parker Swartz, 6-5, Jr., MH, Glenbard West
Jack Talaga, 6-1, Jr., S, Loyola
Sanil Thomas, 5-11, Jr., OH, Andrew
Will Thompson, 6-5, Jr., MH, Hinsdale Central
Will Tischler, 6-7, Jr., OH, Downers Grove South
Lem Turner, 6-5, Jr., MH, Vernon Hills
Kyle Van Stedum, 6-5, Jr., MH, Sandburg
Jackson Van Eekeren, 6-3, So., S, Benet
Jack Vrchota, 6-5, J., MB, Addison Trail
Evan Walsh, 6-4, Jr., MH, Maine South
Tom Wieland, 6-2, Jr., OH, Metea Valley
Luke Will, 6-1, S/RS, Jr., Geneva