By Pat Brozynski

Several sleepers making their (pillow) cases

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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.

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I know you're saying that there aren't any surprises because we haven't had any teams outside of the top ten or so come out and win the state tournament, but that clearly isn't going to happen in Illinois boys volleyball. BUT, the last two years the team that has been the heavy favorite has not won the state championship. Last year Providence and Glenbrook North were heavy favorites to win and the year before was Brother Rice and New Trier. So maybe there havent been huge upsets, but there have been upsets.

You say that Neuqua Valley has an easy road to state, but their sectional features a lot of teams from the southwestern part of Illinois that most people don't know about. District rival Waubonsie Valley and possibly Oswego could give Neuqua a run for their money.

Two-Words...Lincoln-Way Central. Connor Wexter is obviously a well known player, but what about the rest of the team? Central is a young, developing team, but they still have plenty of talent. Kyle Overby broke the school's record for most kills in a match in only the first tournament of the season. And don't forget his opposite Josh Kentner. He is that player that just won't stop improving his game. He played one year of club for Ultimate last year, and there is rumor of him, along with kyle, being personally asked to play this upcoming season for the club. Don't forget rightside William Pochron. He's one of the three seniors on the team, and as a veteren he really knows how to play at the varsity level. And James Cummins. As captain of the team, and the only other starting senior, he is a natural leader who commands the team while on the floor with amazing skill. Adam Sieger as DS has astounding defense. Oh, and the team doesn't stop there. The roster goes deep, including primary passers Josh Clark, Kevin Benney (also a rightside hitter), Michael Kucia and John Moss. Others include outside hitter Michael Kordas, middle hitter (and future validictorian) Matt "King Kong" King, outsider hitter Daniel Brodinski, middle hitter Tony S. Another name that should definitely be mentioned is Chris Ojermark. He isn't very well known, but its easy to see why when he competes with Wexter for his position. However, he has the skills to compete with the best. He should never be taken lightly and don't be surprised if he makes an appearance when the team makes it to state. In short, Central has what it takes to be THE sleeper team, and the upset of the century.

I love Chris

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This page contains a single entry by Back Row published on May 5, 2009 9:44 PM.

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