Boys Volleyball: WW South puts perfect record on line in state quarters

Updated: May 31, 2012 7:10PM

Glenbard East may have lost to Wheaton Warrenville South more than most teams and certainly most recently, but the Rams are not the only team to feel the Tigers’ wrath this season.

“They have 12 seniors who are a very determined group,” Glenbard East coach Marci Maier said. “They have a bitter taste in their mouths from last year, and as with most teams that come back with that bitter taste, you come back stronger than you were.”

WW South (39-0), ranked No. 1 in the country by a panel of ESPN prep writers, will be seeking its seventh state title when the IHSA boys state volleyball tournament gets under way Friday at Hoffman Estates. The Tigers meet Payton in a 5 p.m. quarterfinal.

Last year, top-ranked WW South was upset in the sectional finals by DuPage Valley Conference rival Naperville North. WW South coach Bill Schreier reminded his seniors of that day on more than one occasion this season.

“Yeah, Coach wouldn’t let us forget it,” Sun-Times Player of the Year Thomas Jaeschke said.

The next hurdle on WW South’s road to redemption is tournament newcomer Payton (26-10). The Grizzlies are led by 6-3 sophomore Earl Schultz (240 kills, 38 aces) and 6-2 senior Perry Howell. Their schedule includes wins over St. Francis and sectional finalist Mount Carmel.

Payton’s girls team advanced to the state semifinals in 2008 and 2010. But to match that would take some feat by Payton’s boys.

Nevertheless, Schreier is not taking anything for granted.

“Saturday’s not guaranteed,” he said. “You’ve got to win Friday. All our focus is on Payton and what we need to be able to do when we play them.”

Here is a look at the other quarterfinals:

Brother Rice (27-12) vs. Glenbrook North (36-3), 1 p.m.: There may be no hotter team outside WW South than Brother Rice, which has won 17 of its last 18 matches including a 25-20, 28-26 win over Glenbrook North on May 7. Sophomore Mitch Weiler (317 kills) and 6-7 junior Ryan Paull (181 kills, 97 blocks) lead the surging Crusaders.

Glenbrook North will counter with twins Patrick (345 kills) and Kyle Bedford (957 assists) and libero Mitch Shapiro (306 digs), and will get Brother Rice on a neutral court where the Spartans have lost only once — to WW South at Buffalo Grove — all season.

Minooka (36-2) vs. St. Rita (25-14), 2 p.m.: Her brother, Doug Burchett, won two state championships at WW South. Minooka coach Janel Grzetich is looking for her first. The Indians have won 31 in a row, but their schedule has been kind. Nevertheless, 6-4 outside Rick Bishop and 6-6 junior middle Maalik Walker are big-time talents.

St. Rita is no stranger to Hoffman Estates. The Mustangs lost in last year’s quarterfinals to Glenbard West in a grueling, three-set match. Former St. Rita standout Ryan Biros’ team is powered by 5-10 outside John Johnson and battle-tested by one of the toughest schedules in the state.

Lake Park (27-10) vs. Barrington (32-6), 6 p.m.: Lake Park overcame the loss of leading hitter Michal Ragan to injury early in the season to win the Upstate Eight Valley title and the Elgin Sectional. Outside hitter Mike Dickerson, middle Andrew Hochstadt and setter Dave Prentis star for coach and Lake Park alumnus Tim Murphy.

Barrington is back for the first time since finishing second to WW South in 2005. Six-foot-8 USC-bound Tommy Leonard, 6-4 Charlie Spry, 6-5 Jeff Hockstein, 6-6 Peter Van Fossan and setter Taylor Ganzer get the glory, but it all starts in the back row with libero Austin Czarnecki.

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