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.