Boys volleyball: Wheaton Academy playing well despite limited schedule
The Wheaton Academy boys volleyball team has played a limited schedule through April.
The Warriors (8-2, 3-1) have played just 10 matches, but managed to show a lot of positives in a small sample size compared to other area teams. The Warriors have won three straight matches heading into Tuesday's tilt against Elgin St. Edward.
"We're in a good spot," Wheaton Academy coach D.A. Nichols said. "We've been fairly healthy and our players are working to improve individually at their skilled positions and general game play and court sense, which is translating to our success as a team.
"We have some experienced players that have helped the learning process as the season has moved along. The stride that we're in currently is mostly due to our defensive play and mindset. We have continue to play better each game. We've not reached our ceiling yet and have a couple weeks to show that."
Nichols said his seven seniors have played a vital role helping the younger players and leading the team.
"Adam Baarman has been a four-year setter on varsity and really developed great touch and understanding how to run an offense to make us effective and efficient and helping us maximize our potential and strengths," he said. "Luke Klyachenko is our utility player. Luke has been anchoring our defense as libero this year, but also capable of playing all the way around on a pin; he is willing to play wherever he's needed. Cole Andrews has jumped in to play middle hitter for us and is getting better each game and practice. He's athletic, works hard and very intelligent which is helping expedite his progress tremendously."
Still, senior Anthony Vuksinci is the unquestionable go-to player for the Warriors. The Ball State recruit has been a key factor in the program's rise.
"We depend on AJ for a lot, and he has taken on that challenge leading us on both sides of the ball," Nichols said. "He attracts a lot of attention from our opponents, but he has embraced that role and challenge and excelled through the season. He shoulders the attention and makes our team better and more confident."
Waubonsie Valley update:
Waubonsie Valley heads into the final stretch of the regular season on a good note.
The Warriors (15-12, 1-2) gained a quality 2-1 win over York on Saturday to gain some momentum. The Dukes (20-5) led for the early part of the third set, but the Warriors stormed back to win the game 16-14.
In the win over York, Tyler Vasquez tallied 16 digs, Michael Lu had 11 kills and 2 blocks and Max Hubenko finished with 6 kills, 9 digs and 2 blocks.
"This team is very competitive, in practice and in matches," Waubonsie Valley coach Noel Soto said. "If we fall behind in a set, we never quit and feel we're never out of a contest. This team has great chemistry and just get after it on the court. We're a little undersized at some positions but what we lack in size, we make up for with heart and grit. I really like how we continue to improve and work to get better. That's what you want to see heading into the postseason. That third set against York was a preview of what playoff volleyball is like and the experience is crucial for this team."
The Warriors endured a few rough patches early in the season after losing 11 players from last season's team. Co-captains Andrej Moller and Lu have been key players this season, Soto said. "Andrej Moller has done a great job of being a leader that keeps pushing the others to get better," he said. "He does a great job of knowing what the team needs in a match and delivering. Michael Lu has provided a lot of the firepower for the offense. He leads the team in kills. Tyler Vasquez is just a sophomore but does not play like one at libero. His defense and ability to adjust his position to the block consistently puts him in great defensive position. The surprise of the season is first- year player, senior Ethan Quaye. He has picked up the game in such a short amount of time. He gets better every practice and match. His energy and effort on the court is contagious, especially after getting big blocks."
Glenbard West on a roll:
Glenbard West added another big invitational win last weekend, capturing the Lincoln-Way East Invitational. The Hilltoppers (23-1) won all three of their matches in two games on Saturday, including knocking off Roncalli (Indiana) in the title match.
Danny Dorsey had a stellar weekend, showing his worth with his return to the lineup. He finished with 10 kills and 2 digs in the title match victory. Trevor Powell added 29 assists, 11 digs, 3 kills and 2 blocks, and Parker Moorhead and Gavin Swartz both had 8 kills.
"Danny led the team in points scored over the weekend," Glenbard West volleyball coach Christine Giunta-Meyer said. "He's an incredible leader and brings so much energy to the floor. He's just a fun player to watch."
Giunta-Meyer and her team are looking to make up for lost time. The Hilltoppers were one of the top teams slated to contend for the state title in 2020, when the season was wiped out due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"It's been difficult the past few years," she said. "COVID really crushed me. I had a hard time figuring out my next chapter and was disappointed. This year, I'm trying to make up for it and then some. This team is tight and are friends on and off the court and we all work well together.
"I have some competitors on this team, and it's really pushing me to make sure that they're not complacent in any way."