By Phil Brozynski
What's up with Wheaton Warrenville South?
The Tigers (17-8) have been struggling all season with preserving leads and winning big matches against a schedule that can only be described as brutal. But Saturday at the Mizuno Cup, the Tigers stunned nationally-ranked Belleville Althoff 25-14, 27-25 for fifth place.
"This was something we've been striving toward," Wheaton South coach Bill Schreier said. "We've been able to get off to good leads against good teams, but we have not been able to hold on.
"Maybe we're turning the corner," he added.
Wheaton South's only loss at Mizuno was a 25-15, 25-15 setback to eventual champion Joliet Catholic in the Gold quarterfinals.
"It would have been nice to play better against them," Schreier said.
The Tigers, whose schedule includes the Wheaton Classic and Mizuno Cup tournaments, are seeded sixth at the York Sectional
Geneva (23-3), which drew the second seed at the York sectional, finished 13th at Mizuno. The Vikings lost to nationally-ranked Muskego (Wis.) 25-12, 25-23 in Friday's pool play and to Freeport 25-21, 26-24 in the Silver quarterfinals before beating St. Charles North 25-12, 25-18.
Freeport (23-4) won the Silver bracket with a 25-16, 25-22 victory over Neuqua Valley.
"We started off a little slow (this weekend)," said Geneva junior Lauren Wicinski. "It was important to get a chance to play St. Charles North because they're in our regional. They're a good team. During regional, everybody is more into it."
It was not a good weekend for Naperville North.
The Huskies, who were seeded in the top four, lost to eventual tournament champion Joliet Catholic 22-25, 25-19, 25-12 in pool play then fell to Neuqua Valley 21-25, 32-30, 25-20 in the Silver semifinals.
"Overall, we were pretty inconsistent," Naperville North coach Jennifer Urban said. "When you play good competition, it's important to be consistent. Both of our losses were in three games and both after we won the first game.
"It was a combination of our inconsistent play and our opponents' stepping it up and playing better," she added.
Rosary is a mystery.
The Royals, fresh off their victory over St. Francis Thursday, were routed by Naperville Central 25-15, 25-6 and then lost to St. Charles North 25-21, 16-25, 27-25 in pool play at the Mizuno Cup and found themselves relegated to the Bronze division.
Rosary did come back to win the Bronze, but it was not the kind of performance that coach Lisa Kasper had hoped for.
"Our most consistent player has been (junior) Emily Weber, and (senior setter) Karen Matic has been pretty steady as well," Kasper said. "But we need the rest of our seniors to step up and be more consistent."
And finally, congratulations to Crystal Lake Central coach Doug Blundy and Fremd coach Curt Pinley for reaching milestones last weekend.
Blundy recorded his 700th career victory Saturday. His 702-175 overall record gives him the ninth-most wins in state history. Pinley won his 500th high school varsity volleyball match (girls and boys combined) as his girls team won the Grayslake North invitational on Saturday.