Boys volleyball: West Aurora tests top-ranked WW SouthWest Aurora's James McGrath (right) and Timothy Lambert defend against Wheaton South's Matt Callaway at West Aurora High School in Aurora, Ill., on Wednesday, April 25, 2012. | Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 25, 2012 10:09PM
A funny thing happened as everyone in the West Aurora gym expected powerful Wheaton South to polish off a rout.
Everyone except the Blackhawks, that is. The top-ranked Tigers won the match 25-11, 25-18 to stay undefeated. But West would not concede anything and put a mini-scare into their DuPage Valley Conference foes, firing up the Blackhawks’ crowd in the process.
“I was very happy with the way we played,” West Aurora coach Tolis Koskinaris said. “That (the Tiger team) is a train wreck waiting to happen. If they don’t win state, I’ll be surprised.”
WW South improved to 24-0 overall and 8-0 in the DVC with the triumph. They were led by senior outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke, a Loyola recruit who is also an alternate on the USA national junior team.
Jaeschke, at 6-6, did much of his damage in the first set. He opened the match with a kill and added five more kills, a dink, and an ace in the easy opening win. The Tigers led 18-3 at one point, then coasted to complete the win in 15 minutes.
And it appeared the second set would follow the same script. Matt Callaway (6-8) and Tim Zyburt were punishing the Blackhawks this time, with Zyburt registering three kills from the back line.
The Tigers led 16-6 before the Blackhawks (14-9 overall, 4-4 conference) made a stand. Eric Roggeman (nine kills) hit off a Tiger block, which had been air-tight for most of the match. Then James McGrath put a rare block on Jaeshke, igniting his team and the crowd.
“They got over being intimidated, and they played well,” said Koskinaris of his team. “We stopped trying to go through their blocks, because that’s not going to happen. We’re a good team too. Most of our losses are to ranked teams.”
Roggeman had two more kills, then David Vasquez (five kills) scored on a dink and a block, narrowing the deficit to 19-14. Libero Partick Ronan made an outstanding dig on Jaeschke’s serve before the Vasquez dink. But a pair of service errors blunted the West comeback, although the Blackhawks were still within 22-18 after an outstanding retrieval by Timothy Lambert led to a Joe Frommert kill.
Frommert is the tallest Blackhawk at 6-3. The Tigers have eight players on their roster bigger than Frommert. In addition to their superior power game, WW South has a setter in Kit Bruzek who can put the ball where it needs to be, and a solid defender in libero Dan Eastman. All the pieces are in place for a championship run.
“It’s a fun team to be around — they all want to work really hard,” Tigers coach Bill Schreier said. “We got a little rattled in game two, but there were enough people to control the tempo and get us back to a positive mindset. We know we’re going to get everyone’s best effort.”