By Phil Brozynski
The 2009 boys volleyball season is in the books, and in the end, it looked an awful lot like the 2008 season.
2010 promises to look a lot different, however. Or does it?
Maine South, Sandburg and Buffalo Grove figure to be among the top teams next spring, but don't discount three-time defending state champion Wheaton Warrenville South, said senior setter Joe Kelly.
"I think they'll surprise some people next year," said Kelly, one of eight players who graduated from WW South this spring including starters Kevin Mueller, Neill Nystrom, Rob Samp and Neal Whittington.
"The Wilkins (Eric and Matt) will be back, and so will (Eric) Luhrsen," he said. "And the freshmen team was phenomenal."
The Tigers did get a little bad news when it was learned that sophomore Dave Priest, an outstanding club setter who was slated to set for the Tigers in 2010, will be moving to the northern suburbs.
Finally, Brother Rice coach Paul Ickes promises to keep fighting the good fight to bring the state volleyball championships to a better venue. Hoffman Estates has been the home of boys volleyball for many years, and while school officials do a good job of running the tournament, fan seating is atrocious.
Because the bleachers have to be pulled in to allow for room around the court, only a few hundred fans can actually sit on floor level and then only on the side opposite the benches. The rest of the fans have to sit on the balcony level, not an ideal situation for the intimacy so many fans enjoy at other events.
IHSA officials noted that attendance was down this year, but part of that could be attributable to the seating (No casual fan wants to go to an event at which you must sit in the "top row"), the location and the early demise of Marist, which supports its sports teams very well.
Also, it's hard to believe that tournament officials had the audacity to ask the Marist fans to give up their seats on the ground floor to make room for late-arriving Maine South fans. That situation does not arise at any other venue where there is adequate seating on both sides of the court