Titans boys volleyball serves up a victory over Ramblers
Passing. It's a maker-breaker in volleyball.
Glenbrook South's boys had the better of it in a nonconference match May 6 against visiting Loyola, winning in two games, 25-21, 25-15, in Glenview.
"I thought we distributed the ball well," said Titans coach Annie Kotsadam. "We used our back-row attack more than we had in the past, and we started making adjustments with our block and our attack pretty early, too, that became successful.
"We distributed the ball really well, spread it around a lot to our hitters so that everybody got a fair shot at it. All of our hitters were hitting a pretty solid percentage, as well," she said.
Cooper Evans' 6 kills led three other Titans with 5 apiece: Chance Shampine, Jaki Erdene and Alex Rupprecht, who also got down to make 9 digs.
Libero Carson Walters contributed 8 digs. Sophomore setter James Ganzorig assisted on 23 points as Glenbrook South moved to 18-9 entering its May 9 game against Evanston.
The Titans came in already having been seeded behind Loyola at the Titans' own upcoming Glenbrook South sectional, seeded sixth to the Ramblers' No. 5.
On this Friday match, however, Glenbrook South enjoyed scoring runs for comfortable leads before Loyola (16-10) tightened the score, but not enough.
"We just had a slow start. I think our passing was not crisp like it normally is. I think that's usually our strength, but we did not pass well tonight for sure," said Loyola setter Casey McMenamin.
In the first game, Glenbrook South surpassed Colin Murray's ace serve to give Loyola a 2-2 tie, to go up 20-11.
Erdine leapt well over the net to tap the ball down on Loyola's side for the 9-point lead, forcing a timeout by Ramblers assistant coach Archie Alhambra, pinch-hitting for head coach Lionel Ebeling, out of town on business.
Twice in that run Glenbrook South commanded service, first by Rupprecht and then by Shampine, who delivered 3 aces on the day.
"Serving aggressively just really puts the other team in a hard position to really get a good attack to us, and then just makes it super-easy for us to just keep going," Shampine said.
They call it getting a team "out of system."
"Getting them out of system is just, they can't set up a perfect attack, so they won't have their setter in a great spot to set all of their hitters. Switching up with the serves, they'll start adapting to one serve, and when you switch it up they're not ready for it," Shampine said.
Plays like a Niko Zlatkovic block and Murray's kill from an Andrew Sheedy dig had the Ramblers' bench up yelling and Loyola within 23-19, but an Evans spike ruined the momentum in the 25-21 opener.
Game two was similar, with the 5-foot-11 McMenamin rising for a kill that defeated Glenbrook South's block to bring Loyola within 4-3. Rupprecht's service then got the Titans back on a roll to take a 10-3 lead.
Erdine's kill off a block pushed Glenbrook South to a 15-5 lead, and though Loyola pushed within 20-14 on an ace serve by McMenamin, Glenbrook South maintained its lead again with Rupprecht serving.
"We were moving the ball around and telling them where to serve and making sure that we're trying to take Loyola out of system. But their aggressive serving definitely helps with that -- playing around the serve and being defensive-minded as well," Kotsadam said.
Shampine credited Titans assistant coach Eryk Krzyzak with that particular strategy.
"He tells us where to serve, and if we're going on a run he usually tells us to switch it up every once in awhile to try to throw them off," Shampine said.
Alhambra likes what the Ramblers have in senior co-captains McMenamin, Zlatkovic and Rory Tompkins, mentoring the team's four sophomore starters.
"But, as you can see," Alhambra said, "some matches they'll struggle."
That is just the way it goes.
"Sometimes they just have a good serve and they beat you. Sometimes it's as simple as that," McMenamin said.