Boys Volleyball: Naperville North’s Sauter commits to Penn StateBuffalo Grove, IL 3/24/12 Buffalo Grove and Naperville North faced off at the Buffalo Grove Bison Battle Boys Volleyball, Saturday. Naperville North's Spencer Sauter (12) bumps the ball to keep it in play. | Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 10, 2012 9:04PM
Naperville North outside hitter Spencer Sauter has verbally committed to Penn State where he will continue his volleyball career.
“Spencer is a phenomenal talent and an even greater person,” said Naperville North boys volleyball coach Nate Bornancin. “He’s our go-to guy and I’m sure he’ll keep improving at the next level in the coming years.”
Sauter was recently named to the all-tournament team at the Tiger Classic at Wheaton Warrenville South.
The 6-foot-7 senior is the third player from the western suburbs to commit to the Nittany Lions, joining Matt Callaway of Wheaton Warrenville South and Zack Parik of Downers Grove North.
Metea Valley outside hitter Nick Wieland is certainly one of the most improved players in the area.
The 6-foot-2 senior has already surpassed his numbers from last year. At press time he had 74 kills and 13 aces.
“Nick put in a lot of work in the offseason,” said Metea Valley coach John Aister. “He’s worked out and he’s quicker and more athletic. He plays above the net, and he’s gotten really good at reading the play. He knows what’s going on. He also has a powerful jump-serve that’s been a major asset for our team.”
The Mustangs with their first senior class have become more competitive since last season. On the way to an 11-3 record, they have won the Joliet West Invite and finished third in the West Aurora Invite.
“We’re playing a more consistent and a faster-paced volleyball,” said Aister. “You can see that we have a great comfort-level on the court and that we’re playing better as a team.”
Martin Krasuski is the team’s kill-leader with 77 and he’s served for 17 aces, while Chad Martin leads from his setter position with 232 assists.
“We go as Chad goes,” said Aister. “He’s got the offense in system and clicking. If we can learn to limit our errors we’ll be able to win consistently.”
Position switch works out
Kevin Weithers was always “Mr. Reliable” for Benet as a middle hitter.
But two weeks into the season, the senior was switched to libero and he’s taken to the position as if he’d been there forever.
“Kevin is exactly what you want in a libero,” said Benet coach Amy Van Eekeren. “He reads the play well, anticipates and keeps us in long rallies. And he’s really enjoying the role. He’s also a verbal leader, and his spirit has been great for the team no matter which position he plays. We look to him for enthusiasm.”
The Redwings, who finished seventh at the Springfest Tournament at Glenbard East last Saturday, have a record of 12-4. They lost a close three-setter to Downers Grove South, the eventual tournament champion.
Van Eekeren has been getting powerful offense from outside hitters Luke Ladowski and Bobby Wehrli, a pair of all-stars from last year who are determined to make their senior year memorable.
“Luke and Bobby have been phenomenal,” said Van Eekeren. “They have been consistent weapons on the outside. As we go on we are going to have to spread our offense out a little more and not just rely on them.”
Going into this season Neuqua Valley coach Erich Mendoza knew he had enough experienced hitters, both middle and outside for the Wildcats to continue their consistently winning ways.
The big questions marks were at setter and libero where starters Alex Blackwell and Zach Gilligan had been so important to the team’s fortunes for the past two years.
The good news is that the Wildcats, who have a 10-2 record, have found replacements who have stepped right in and performed like veterans.
Ryan Cahill has moved in to replace Blackwell as the new setter and Scott Whitaker has succeeded Gilligan at libero. Their presence has made the Neuqua offense and defense at least as potent as last year’s team.
Cahill was the starting setter on the junior varsity team last year and Whitaker got occasional playing time behind Gilligan. Both just needed to get accustomed to the speed of the varsity game in order to show their outstanding athletic ability and knowledge of the game from playing club ball and performing at other levels in the Neuqua program.
“Cahill has done a great job,” said Mendoza. “We couldn’t have asked for better. Last year at tryouts he could have made varsity, but we made the decision to get him the playing time he needed by placing him on JV. It helped him in the long run. Scott has really improved his passing this year and he’s all over the place making sure the ball doesn’t hit the floor.”
The two new starters have combined with a bunch of good hitters to give the Wildcats a diversified attack to go with their customary quick passing and solid defensive game. Neuqua was the runner-up to Downers Grove South at Springfest last weekend, the highest they’ve ever finished in the tournament that also featured such outstanding squads as Glenbard East, Glenbard West, St. Francis and Benet.