As if a difficult schedule and a brutal sectional field were not enough to get in the way of an outstanding season, the senior-dominated St. Francis boys volleyball team faces one rather unique obstacle this season - an $8 million construction project.
The Wheaton private school breaks ground in late May for a new library and classroom addition. The need to begin the project as early as possible forced administrators to accelerate the school's academic calendar.
Classes at St. Francis will end the first week of May with finals scheduled for the following week. What his players will do with all that free time while the season enters the stretch run has St. Francis coach Mike Lynch a little concerned.
"Our players will be out of school for almost three weeks before the state tournament begins," he said.
Ankle bracelets are probably out of the question.
Congratulations to the following players who were named to the all-tournament team at last weekend's Tiger Classic at Wheaton Warrenville South.
Named were: Buffalo Grove junior outside hitter Nick Baronti; Andrew senior outside hitter Zach Bentley; New Trier senior outside hitter Kyle Cook; Marist junior setter Garrett Dempsey; Lincoln-Way East senior outside hitter George Langheld; and DeSmet senior outside hitter Chris Lischke.
Also, Wheaton Warrenville South junior outside hitter Eric Luhrsen; Marist senior middle hitter Dave Nelson; Lincoln-Way Central senior outside hitter Kyle Overby; Glenbrook North senior outside hitter Jack Preiss; and Lake Park senior outside hitter Pat Proctor.
Sandburg setter Ryan Mabbott was named the tournament MVP.
Lincoln Park coach John Davis, whose team is annually among the best in the city, is touting 6-foot-6 junior Nicholas Ali.
"Ali is a really special player," Davis said. "He's one of the best hitters in the Chicago Public League. He can set, he can play back row. He averages six, seven, eight kills per game. I believe he can play with anybody."
Players who made an impact at Saturday's Springfest hosted by Glenbard East: Benet's 6-foot-5 sophomore Bobby Wehrli, Conant's 6-6 senior Matt Schimel, Downers Grove South senior Jim Healy, Glenbard East's 6-2 senior Andrew Achenbaugh, Glenbard West's 6-5 junior Adam Leopold, Neuqua Valley's Jon Storm and St. Francis's 6-5 senior Dan McGuire.
There was no all-tournamwent team named, but had there been, Downers South's Buddy Steinhaus was deserving of MVP honors.