By Pat Brozynski

May 2009 Archives

Specialization? Not for this "Wolfman"

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By Phil Brozynski

Peter Doerrer is going to college in the fall. He will likely attend Purdue to study engineering. He could go anywhere and play volleyball. But volleyball is not his primary sport. Doerrer is a basketball player, and a pretty darned good one.

When was the last time you heard that?

In this era of specialization, fewer and fewer athletes are multi-tasking. I looked back over some rosters from the past few years and found only a handful of basketball players who "moonlighted" on the volleyball court in the spring.

I remember when volleyball was touted as a "natural" sport to which basketball players might matriculate in the spring. Volleyball included jumping, a little running, coordination, teamwork. Some of the same attributes required in basketball. Of course, that was in the days prior to the unchecked proliferation of spring basketball leagues.

Oddly, despite the severe shortage of men's volleyball scholarships available (primarily due to the impact of Title IX), are the number of basketball scholarships available to those same city and suburban athletes any greater? Proportionally speaking, with the thousands and thousands of boys playing basketball across the United States and competing for scholarships, can one's chance of landing a scholarship in basketball be any greater than in volleyball?

But back to Doerrer. What makes him so special is that he excels in both sports, and he could have likely chosen a college path in one or the other. He still may choose to pursue basketball, but his primary focus is on academics. That knowledge allowed him to enjoy the past spring as he led St. Ignatius to second place in the Catholic League tournament last weekend - the school's highest finish ever in the tournament.

"When I took over the program three years ago, Peter was one of three sophomores who I coached the year prior as freshman who I brought up to the varsity team," St. Ignatius coach Mark Johnston said. "All three sophomores started, but he had the biggest impact on the team (playing middle hitter), leading the team in kills and blocks.

"That year, we upset the No. 2 team in our sectional, Oak Park, to win the regional," the coach added. "It was only the second regional title in school history. After that year's performance, I knew I had something special with Peter.

"Peter has been my go-to guy for three years now," Johnston said. "He has definitely turned around a struggling program. Thanks to Peter, we are now going for first-ever sectional title. He is a great kid with a great attitude on and off the court. He will truly be missed."

When his high school volleyball career is finished, Doerrer will have amassed more than 900 kills and rank among Illinois' top all-time kill leaders. More importantly, at least a few will remember that he thumbed his nose at specialization and decided to enjoy his high school experience.

Ranked teams not exactly building momentum

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By Phil Brozynski

It's been a bad week for ranked teams.

No. 3 Buffalo Grove, No. 5 Neuqua Valley, No 6 Hinsdale Central and No. 7 St. Francis all went down this week.

Buffalo Grove (26-5) was stunned in three games Wednesday by Fremd (28-6) in the Mid-Suburban League championship game, snapping a streak of 15 consecutive league wins by the Bison.

Neuqua Valley (31-3) was derailed Monday by Minooka, whose only previous claim to fame was a 25-10, 25-21 whipping by Hinsdale Central earlier this year. Neuqua Valley and Minooka should meet again next Wednesday in the regional title game at Neuqua.

Hinsdale Central (30-4) lost Thursday at Morton (25-5), which got 15 kills from 5-11 outside hitter Jonathan Hernandez Hernandez had 10 kills in Morton's win over Addison Trail on Tuesday which clinched the Mustangs' second West Suburban Gold title.

St. Francis (28-7) was upended by Lyons, but setter Mike Segneri sat out for precautionary reasons. Segneri has been battling illness the last couple of weeks, but is expected to be well enough to play in next week's regional.

Meanwhile, the Catholic League tournament will be held Friday and Saturday at St. Ignatius, and unlike previous years when it was a mere formality and the crowning of Brother Rice was a given, any of five teams has a legitimate chance to walk off with the league title.

Loyola (26-4), with junior Reis Foster on the outside, is the No. 1 seed, followed by Brother Rice, despite its 16-14 overall record. St. Rita (18-9), which played so well early in the season, is seeded fifth behind St. Ignatius (23-6) and Providence.

The championship is tentatively scheduled for Saturday at 2:00 p.m.

Finally, here are my picks (you can add your own) for the state quarterfinals June 5: Neuqua Valley vs. Wheaton Warrenville South, St. Patrick vs. Morton, Buffalo Grove vs. Fremd, Loyola vs. Marist.

Semifinal pairings? Who knows, but WW South and Marist should meet in the finals. And if WW South plays anything like it did when the two teams met at Richards earlier this month, the Tigers will win their third consecutive state title.

Let the drama begin.

By Phil Brozynski

Random ramblings:

1. Get well wishes to St. Francis setter Mike Segneri, who has been sidelined on and off this season for one reason or another. It's been a tough season for Mike, who suffered an ankle injury at Glenbard East, fought his way back to lead the Spartans to a second-place finish at the Brother Rice Smack Attack, then missed some time with illness. Segneri is a player who leaves it all out on the floor.

2. It does not seem fair that guys like Mike Segneri and Dan Dierking (Naperville Central) have their seasons pulled out from under their feet due to no fault of their own, while other kids make stupid, selfish decisions that not only cost them the remainder of their seasons, but punish their teammates, their coaches, their fans, their schools and anybody who loves volleyball.

3. I don't hate on anybody. But you have to earn respect. Any team can have a great record, but you have to beat somebody...and not just in pool play, but when it matters!

4. If you want your comments posted, avoid using words that are not listed in Webster's Dictionary.

5. Why do seven downstate Illinois rate two regionals? I realize there is a little geography involved, but the last time I looked, Belleville East and West and East St. Louis were in the same conference.

6. I would love to see a St. Rita vs. Morton sectional final at St. Rita.

7. Of all the teams ranked in the Sun-Times Top 10, Neuqua Valley has the easiest route to the state tournament. Whoever comes up from southern Illinois will have to spend a lot of time on the bus to get to Bolingbrook, and there isn't a team in the top 30 between Neuqua and the sectional finals.

8. The state champion may come out of the Willowbrook sectional, but the toughest field top to bottom is at T.F. North. Highland Park is a close second.

9. Glenbard North is the top seed at Elgin, but look out for surging Lake Park.

10. Congratulations to Randy Lorenz, Nick Leiding, Max Deevy and the rest of the Barrington Broncos on sharing the Mid-Suburban West title with Fremd. The Broncos are a great example that it's not always the size of the player, but the size of the heart that matters.

By Phil Brozynski

OK, so the last couple of boys state volleyball championships have provided few surprises.

2008: Wheaton Warrenville South.

2007: Wheaton Warrenville South.

2006: Maine South (OK, that was a surprise).

2005: Wheaton Warrenville South.

2004: Wheaton Warrenville South.

2003: Glenbrook South (no stunner here...the Sam Kim years).

2002: Marist (the last truly surprising winner in years).

Maybe this will be the year that familiar pattern is broken.

Let's look at a few teams that could make some noise late in the season:

St. Ignatius: The Wolfpack is 20-3 (through May 4) and has already beaten St. Rita. There may be too many gimme's on the St. Ignatius schedule to get a true gauge of their strength, but like it or not, the Wolfpack has the easiest path of any ranked (or nearly-ranked) team to the state tournament. Peter Doerrer is a bonafide killing machine, and don't you want to hear the state P.A. guy try pronouncing Rimas Grybauskas?

Neuqua Valley: A newcomer to the top 10 so maybe not a complete surprise. Outside power Rob Bauer and middle magician Derek Menendez are holdovers from last year's third-place finisher. Once again, almost nobody in the way to state. The Wildcats are 25-2 (through May 4) and have gone 2-1 against St. Francis (although one of those wins came with the Spartans' Mike Segneri nursing an ankle injury).

New Trier: Would another appearance by the Trevians be all that much of a surprise? Six-foot-6 senior Chris Ahlin is solid in the middle and libero Simon Holstein can go get 'em in the back row. New Trier was 17-7 (through May 4) and steadily improving.

Lake Park: Brad Baker, the man who almost brought you unbeaten Benet in the fall, is trying to work his magic with the Lancers (and what would spruce up a state tournament more than those gaudy blue and white shorts with the palm silhouettes?). After a 5-5 start, Lake Park is 10-1 with its only loss to WW South while beating heavyweights Loyola and St. Francis.

Lincoln-Way Central: Two words - Connor Wexter. The Knights are one of those teams that just hangs around long enough to make opponents sweat. Maybe they can make a few more teams sweat later this month.

Providence: The Celtics have the capability, they have Brian Urchell and 6-foot-7 Denny Falls, they have Cindy Olczyk calling the shots and they still have some unfinished business after last year's grueling three-set semifinal loss to WW South.

Warren: Everybody who's anybody up north is at Highland Park. But they can dream, can't they. If not this year, then next. Watch 6-4 junior Kyle Schwede , 6-5 sophomore Eduard Ciobano and 6-3 sophomore Dillon Schaefer.

Stevenson: Stuck among the "other teams" all season, the Patriots have a pair of solid gold sluggers in 6-2 senior Kyle Buck and 5-11 senior Brad Feiger. Setter Brian Czosek runs the show. No height (middle Travis Naftzger is a modest 6-2), but plenty of great defense.

Vernon Hills: Keegan Harris and Ernie Choi are as good as it gets on the attack, and setters Sam Lee and Justin Opitz make sure they get the ball early and often.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from May 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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