Boys Volleyball: Spartans take second to country’s best
Jakub Barabas, of Glenbrook North, spikes the ball against Wheaton Warrenville South at the Boys Volleyball State Championship, Saturday, June 2nd, 2012 in Hoffman Estates, IL. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 8, 2012 8:31AM
Glenbrook North was one of only two teams to take a set off Wheaton Warrenville South this season, and when the Spartans went up 16-15 in Game 1 of the IHSA boys state volleyball championship Saturday at Hoffman Estates, they were in position to take a third set.
But WW South (42-0), ranked No. 1 in the nation by a panel of ESPN prep writers, rallied to defeat Glenbrook North 25-21 in Game 1, then cruised to a 25-21, 25-13 victory to win its seventh state championship and become only the fourth team in Illinois history to finish without a loss.
“We had to get that first game to get some momentum going,” Glenbrook North coach Chris Cooper said. “We were right there with them up until 22-21, but we couldn’t hang with them the last few points.
“They don’t make a lot of errors for you,” he added. “They make you think like you have to play a perfect game and you try to do things that you normally don’t do. We ended up having to hit a lot of roll shots and tips because they were just getting over the net and blocking us.
“I don’t think it was confidence thing,” Cooper said. “I think it was just that they forced us to make a lot of errors.”
The Spartans (38-4) led 13-11 in Game 1 on back-to-back kills by Brian O’Keefe and were still ahead at 16-15 on Pat Bedford’s putaway before the Tigers went on a 7-3 run to grab a 22-19 lead.
A Pat Bedford kill and a WW South error closed the gap to 22-21, but consecutive Spartan errors and a Matt Callaway block on set point ended Glenbrook North’s last serious bid at victory.
WW South opened Game 2 on an 8-2 run and never looked back, building leads of 17-7 and 20-9.
WW South got 12 kills from Thomas Jaeschke, nine kills from Tim Zyburt and 22 assists from Kit Bruzek.
“I don’t think it was him (Jaeschke) as much as the depth of their team,” Pat Bedford said. “Of course, he’s a great outside player and he’ll put a lot of balls down. Just having him as an option is tough. We were going to try to block him, but they also have a middle hitter and a right side and backrow attack in every rotation.
“It’s hard to go against all three of those options,” Bedford added.
Cooper said WW South made it difficult for any team in Illinois to match up.
“Because of their physical size, they have an ability to hit a gear that a lot of other teams can’t,” he said. “They combine with that height with such good ball control. We couldn’t ace them. They play good defense. They stick arms out and the next thing you know the balls are coming back flying over the net.
“They combine that great ball control with that size, and there’s not many teams that can match that,” he added.
Jaeschke, the Sun-Times Player of the Year, wasn’t surprised at Glenbrook North’s quick start.
“We knew they were going to come out strong,” Jaeschke said. “We had to weather that storm. They came close and that was their best shot for sure. We just rode that into Game 2 and the drama kind of wore off. We were just playing our game and it worked out.”
Pat Bedford had seven kills to lead Glenbrook North, which also got six kills from O’Keefe and 19 assists and three digs from Kyle Bedford.
“We’re content with second place,” Pat Bedford said. “That’s where we were ranked much of the season. Of course it would be much better if we were standing in Wheaton’s shoes, but there’s nothing to be mad about or sad about. They’re a good team and they came out better than us.”
Earlier in the tournament, Glenbrook North avenged one of its earlier losses with a 25-22, 25-23 win over Brother Rice on Friday. The Spartans then advanced to the finals with a 25-19, 27-25 victory over Minooka in Saturday’s semifinals.