By Pat Brozynski

March 2010 Archives

No sportmanship banner will hang in this gym

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Whatever happened to the emphasis on sportsmanship in high school sports?

The boys volleyball season is not even a week old and already I have been appalled by some of the antics I have witnessed on the court this season. Somewhere along the way, the word "sportsmanship" has been erased from the vernacular.

This is not an indictment of all teams. The majority seem to grasp the concept that you celebrate with restraint and with class. Most coaches would not tolerate the kind of behavior I witnessed. Most officials would not either (I hope).

Certainly, you would never see this kind of behavior in girls volleyball. As one coach who was equally stunned as I said afterward, "Girls care too much about each other to treat each other like that."

But when a teenager stands hands on hip staring across the net for an inordinate time after winning a point like some NBA "goon" staring into the camera after "posterizing" an opponent, when a team breaks into a coordinated celebration of a spike bouncing off the head of the opponent, when team members fall to their knees ala Brandi Chastain after winning the World Cup to celebrate just one point, the line of class and sportsmanship has been crossed.

This is the third year of the IHSA's "Do What's Right!" program. Maybe everybody did not get the memo. But here are the five expectations for IHSA schools, players and fans:

To represent their school and community well with positive interaction with opposing fans and players.

To use positive yells, chants, songs or gestures.

To display modesty in victory and graciousness in defeat.

To respect and acknowledge the integrity/judgment of officials.

To exhibit positive behavior with opponents and fans before, during and after the contest.

What I witnessed recently was neither modest nor positive. Frankly, it was embarrassing. Perhaps somebody needs that concept explained to them as well.

Minooka, Lincoln-Way East cannot be overlooked

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Two teams that are getting a lot of mention on the message boards are Minooka and Lincoln-Way East.

Minooka went 16-3 in 2009 before losing to Plainfield North in the regional semifinals. The Indians return four starters from that group including highly-touted 6-foot-4 senior outside hitter Matt Phillips.

Also returning from last year's group are 5-10 senior outside Ryne Jacobson, 6-4 junior middle Kevin Hannon, libero Matt Lindstrom and 6-2 senior outside John Hynek. Expected to join that group in the starting rotation is 6-foot-5 junior middle John Savickas.

"We have a team that is full of potential," said Minooka coach Janel Grzetich. "The junior class has lost only nine times during the past two years they have played together. Wee have smart, powerful hitters and our defense has improved form last year as well."

Minooka will get a chance to test itself against some of the area's best at the Tiger Classic at Wheaton Warrenville South in two weeks.

Lincoln-Way East returns four starters from last year's 26-11 team including 6-foot-5 middle George Langheld, who set a school record with 308 kills in 2009. Also back is libero Pat Sinwelski, who led the Griffins with 268 digs a year ago.

A couple of sophomores to watch are 6-5 middle Jason Garnett and 6-foot outside Nathan Royer.

Kris Fiore, a former player at Lincoln-Way East, succeeds Dawn Murphy as head coach.

"We do have a lot of club players and have some talent, but we play arguably the most difficult schedule in the state," said Fiore, who will take his team to the Tiger Classic, the Marist invite, the Smack Attack at Brother Rice and the Lincoln-Way East invite.

***

An overzealous editor accidentally cut Warren and Waubonsie Valley off the list of "Teams to watch" in the volleyball preview that ran in Tuesday's Sun-Times. Warren should be among the best teams up north while Waubonsie Valley could supplant Neuqua Valley atop the Upstate Eight.

We apologize for the error.

The Chicago Sun-Times boys volleyball 2010 season preview will be out in a few days, but now it's time to look at the teams that did not make the final top 10 but were in the next tier.

In no particular order (Other than alphabetical), the next 10 teams are:

Brother Rice: Kevin Maxwell is among the top setters in the state, and just when you are ready to pass them off the Crusaders always seem to field a top team. So can coach Paul Ickes find enough hitters to turn Maxwell's sets into points?

Joliet Catholic: The Hilltoppers will be among the favorites to advance form the Neuqua Valley sectional. Six-foot-6 setter Keegan Robbins is being highly recruited. Brian Bucciarelli is a top-notch libero. Altogether, Joliet Catholic returns eight players and five starters from last year's team that lost to Marist in the regional championship.

Lake Park: Can Brad Baker work his magic with the Lake Park boys? The Lancers return five players who started at some point during the 2009 season including 6-3 Pat Proctor, 6-6 middle Matt Ciaglia, senior Mike Kreiser, 6-2 sophomore Michael Ragan and 5-9 libero Mike Gallo. Lake Park drew the St. Charles East sectional, which is devoid of a top 10 team.

Lyons: Six-foot-6 senior Dan Lalonde would much rather be playing basketball right now, but the Lions' exit from the state basketball tournament gives Lalonde more time to recover and get ready to lead Lyons back into state title contention.

Marist: Garrett Dempsey, 6-5 senior middle Dave Nelson and 6-3 Tommy Clark are all that remain of last year's 34-6 team that was eliminated by Maine South in the state quarterfinals. Bob St. Leger believes his team has the talent, all it needs is to identify the one "go-to" guy to step in for Joe Smalzer. No small task.

Morton: Tony Hornilla's Mustangs got off to a great start in the 2009 state quarterfinals, but could not finish off St. Patrick. Back from that 29-6 group are 6-1 junior middle Alfonso Pereda and 6-foot junior Evarardo Valencia. A broken arm kept setter Daniel Orozco on the bench last year, but he's back and ready to propel Morton.

New Trier: The Trevians lost to Loyola in the sectional final in 2009 and welcome back senior outside TJ Keene, 6-3 outside Kyle Cook and junior setter Eric Kerr. Juniors Jesse Solomon and Bennett Wakenight are among the best of the rest, as is libero Joe Coyne. Coach Sue Haak expects the Trveians to vie for the sectional title again this spring.

St. Francis: Seven veterans are back from last year's 29-8 team. Six-foot-1 outside Joe Mordell, 6-3 middle Steven Howe, defensive whiz Thomas Culligan, setter Mark Roberts, 6-4 middle Joe Pfeiffer, 6-5 outside Dan McGuire and defensive specialist Connor Malloy helped St. Francis win the Great Lakes summer league .

Warren: One of the top teams in the far northern suburbs last year, Warren should be back among the best again this season. Kyle Schwede is a solid 6-5 setter and junior outsides Dillon Schaefer and Eduard Ciobanu played a ton in 2009. Coach Yun Chen likes his team's experience, he just wonders when it will all come together.

Waubonsie Valley: Russell Penicook, a 6-2 senior outside hitter, and 6-4 outside John Ghassan are among the veterans of last year's regional finalist. The uncertainty about Neuqua Valley, which was decimated by graduation, could open the door for the Warriors to earn an Upstate Eight Conference title.

***

ESPN Rise Fab 50 unveiled its national rankings a few days ago, and four words come to mind..."What were they thinking?"

It's not that Wheaton Warrenville South was ranked fifth in the country, or that Buffalo Grove was eighth, followed by No. 14 Maine South, No. 18 Glenbard East, No. 20 Marist, No. 27 Loyola, No. 31 Hinsdale Central, No. 43 Glenbrook North and No. 48 Sandburg.

It's just that it is painfully obvious these rankings were based entirely upon last year's results and have little (or nothing) to do with the 2010 season. Where is Providence? Lincoln-Way Central? Downers Grove South?

At least a couple of these teams (especially if they can't break the top 20 in Illinois) are probably not worthy of being ranked in the top 50 nationally. Certainly not today

But an uneducated guess is better than no guess at all, I guess.

Some veteran boys coaches bid farewell

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The Illinois high school boys volleyball season tips off in a few days with tryouts scheduled to begin March 8. Already, several new faces are dotting the volleyball landscape as several veterans depart for family and other reasons.

In the far south suburbs, Kris Fiore succeeds Dawn Murphy at Lincoln-Way East. Murphy stepped down after 17 years to spend more time with her three children and fulfill her obligations as a member of the Manhattan school board.

Fiore is a Lincoln-Way East graduate and former all-conference volleyball player. Fiore's three assistant coaches are also East graduates.

"I am proud to leave such a strong program in the hands of these former players," Murphy said.

Also stepping down after a long run as boys coach is Dennis McNamara at Oak Lawn. McNamara, too, will be succeeded by a former player in Brad Skendzel, who most recently starred at NAIA powerhouse Lindenwood (Mo.) University.

Perennial south side powerhouse St. Rita will have a new coach as Kathleen Mixan takes over for Jill Nagel. Mixan also coaches at Mother McAuley and will bring some of that tough vaunted Mighty Mac defense and passing with her to the home of the Mustangs.

Finally, Roger Strausberger, who took Naperville North to the 2006 finals where the Huskies were upset by Maine South, yielded the reigns of the very successful DuPage Valley power to Nate Bornancin.

But Strausberger's exit was a little more complicated. Last spring, he accepted an administrative position at rival Naperville Central High School, where he served as an assistant to the girls program this fall.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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