By Phil Brozynski
There were no surprises Thursday in the first round of the Tiger Classic at Wheaton Warrenville South.
WW South, Marist, Buffalo Grove and Glenbrook North - the latter miscast as the second seed in its pool - each advanced to Saturday's gold medal round which will begin at approximately 1:00 p.m.
Marist (7-1), trying to bounce back from last weekend's disappointing loss to Lincoln-Way East in the finals of its own tournament, handled York 25-15, 25-19 and Lake Park 25-21, 25-19 in Pool B action.
The RedHawks will be making their first gold-medal round appearance in three tries.
"We lost to Naperville Central in pool play last year," Marist coach Bob St. Leger recalled. "I'll never forget that match. We won the first game and were up 20-16 in the second. Then we turned around and lost to York on Saturday.
"But this year's team is so much different," he added. "Just the way they go about their business. When your best players are your hardest workers, it makes it so much easier on me. These guys have a lot of goals."
Buffalo Grove (5-2), which finished fourth at last weekend's Bison Battle with top player Chris Falknor sidelined with a right ankle sprain, outlasted Brother Rice 25-13, 20-25, 25-11 and defeated Evanston 25-21, 25-23 with Falknor back in the lineup.
"I'm not going to lie to you...it was nice to see him out there," Buffalo Grove coach Matt Aiello said. "His presence really energized us in the first game against Brother Rice, and he played well."
Despite the loss to Buffalo Grove, Brother Rice looks like it may be a player on the south side thanks to the addition of 6-1 junior Joe Miller. Miller, who has not played volleyball since middle school, looked right at home in his two matches Thursday.
"He's a very athletic kid," Brother Rice coach Paul Ickes said. "It took him a couple of matches, but he got back into the groove. It's like riding a bicycle. You never forget how."
Miller, who also plays basketball, played baseball as a freshman and sat out the spring athletic season last year before joining the volleyball team this spring.
Miller joins 6-5 outside Pat Andrasco and 6-2 Sean McGrath to give the Crusaders some firepower up front.
"We're young by experience," Ickes said. "We only have two returning players, and they're in new positions. Everyone else is new."
Wheaton Warrenville South (7-1), looking to rebound from last week's loss to Glenbrook North at the Bison Battle, also won its pool, defeating Naperville North 25-23, 25-16 and Oak Lawn 25-14, 25-8.
Friday's Pool D matches will feature Sandburg, St. Rita and Lincoln-Way Central sparring for one spot in the gold bracket.
Wheaton Warrenville South (Wheaton, Illinois) head coach Bill Schreier and Naperville Central (Naperville, Illinois) coach Brie Isaacson will conduct a volleyball camp for boys and girls entering grades 2-8 at Eich's Sports Headquarters in Plainfield, Illinois on June 15-17.
Schreier is the boys and girls head coach at Wheaton Warrenville South. He has led his boys teams to five state championships since 1998 and has sent more than 40 players into the college ranks including 2008 Olympic gold medalist Sean Rooney. Schreier was named the 2007 Mizuno National Coach of the Year.
Isaacson's girls teams have won two state championships since 2003. She is a four-time All-American and has held numerous coaching positions with various club programs in the western suburbs of Chicago.
Grades 2-5 will meet from 9:00-10:30 a.m. and grades 6-8 will meet from 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. The cost is $150. Eich's Sports Headquarters is located at 24316 W. 143rd Street in Plainfield.
For more information, call (630) 337-0945.