By Phil Brozynski
Naperville North reached the championship game of the Bison Battle at Buffalo Grove Saturday almost by default. The Huskies lost their second game in pool play to Buffalo Grove, then struggled to beat Schaumburg in three. This on the heels of an opening-day loss at Neuqua Valley.
Meanwhile, Glenbrook North looked unbeatable while disposing of Wheaton Warrenville South (25-19, 25-21) and Sandburg (25-20, 25-20). But looks can be deceiving. Naperville North rolled over Glenbrook North 25-16, 25-19, to win the eight-team tournament.
“That was the first time we were really challenged,” Glenbrook North coach Chris Cooper said. “We lost a little confidence early and didn’t get it back until the end of the second game. Their outsides are what killed us. They also outdug and outpassed us.”
Naperville North’s Jon Bunge, who had 11 kills against Glenbrook North including three that helped the Huskies build a 16-9 lead in game two, said it was all about confidence, staying in a comfort zone and momentum.
“Volleyball is a game of momentum, and it can change like that,” Bunge said. “Today, we were able to capitalize when we got it. Once we got up, we were more in our comfort zone. We just have to continue to play our game and not let it go to our heads.”
Despite the loss, Glenbrook North looks like the team to beat on the North Shore. The Spartans are led by 6-foot-2 outside hitter Billy Vydra, setter Tim Bedford, 6-4 rightside Jack Paleczny and 6-3 senior middle Will Brydon.
“Ten or 11 of us played club together and we really developed some chemistry,” Vydra said. “We’re not very tall, but we have a lot of athleticism and we’re quick. A lot of games are won by defense, and quickness helps.”
Sandburg played the tournament without its standout libero Dave Walery. But the Eagles got stellar performances from 6-9 middle hitter Matt Pollack, 6-7 rightside Matt Fox and 6-foot sophomore Pat Schulte.
Sandburg will battle Providence, Marist, Lincoln-Way Central and Lincoln-Way East to advance to the state tournament out of the Lincoln-Way Central sectional.
“It’s a matter of us gelling,” Sandburg coach Dave Vales said. “We didn’t pass very well against Glenbrook North. They have a nice mix. I didn’t see too many weaknesses. But we battled until the end.”
Wheaton Warrenville South, which hopes to get injured 6-7 middle Neal Whittington back this week, rebounded from losses to Sandburg and Glenbrook North to defeat Buffalo Grove for fifth place. Six-foot-10 outside Neill Nystrom sat out the win over Buffalo Grove with a sore knee.
“You can make excuses, or ultimately you can go out and play,” said WW South coach Bill Schreier after his team’s losses. “I told the kids they’ve got to come to play. They’re going to get everybody’s best shot.”