If the first two matches of the year are any indicator of what the 2018 volleyball season has in store, fans are going to be in for a wild ride.
For the second night in a row, extra points were required to win a decisive third set as Vernon Hills defeated Glenbrook South, 25-23, 20-25, 26-24 to start their season on a high note.
“It’s really nice to be back out there and get a win,” said Vernon Hills coach Chris Curry. “[Glenbrook South coach] Tim [Monahan] and Glenbrook South keep beating us to open the year which gets old after a while but we like playing these guys. They’re a great program top to bottom so it’s good to start out this way.”
Even though the outcome ended up in favor of Vernon Hills, the early portion of the game was dominated by GBS.
The Titans jumped out to leads of 10-7 and 18-12 in the opening set thanks in large to a plethora of errors from Vernon Hills and a solid connection from setter Thomas Cavallaro (25 assists) to middle hitter Konrad Wojslaw (eight kills, five blocks).
“It’s the first match of the season, it’s not an excuse but you’re still doing so much with new rotations,” said Curry. “We had five guys who are sometimes in there out tonight so we didn’t have a lot of options we had a lot of young guys up so errors aren’t totally unexpected.”
GBS looked to be in complete control of the opening set until Vernon Hills shook off their slow start and went on a 6-0 run to tie the opening set at 18.
After starting the game with five straight errors, Drake DeBoer’s finally found his swing, putting away four kills late in the first set to help Vernon Hills to complete the comeback and take set one.
Set two was much more evenly match from the start. Although Vernon Hills continued their error plagued evening, the mistakes were offset by Derrick Jones’ seven second set kills.
Curry said: “What’s nice about DJ is although he plays right side now, he played middle for us as a sophomore and plays all three front row positions. Senior leadership, that’s what you want out of a captain, keep the ball in bounds when nobody else will.”
However Jones’ breakout performance was not enough. A three point run late in triggered by GBS’ own right side Jack Shampine (eight kills) was all the breathing room GBS needed to put away the Cougars in set two 25-20.
While Vernon Hills may have not had the cleanest of nights, they made up for it in solid defensive play.
The Cougars were in the correct spots all match long which helped contain a potent GBS offense. The defensive presence was especially evident in the final set, as Vernon Hills held Wojslaw to just a single kill.
“He’s very tough to defend and I’m surprised he didn’t eat us up a bit more,” said Curry. “We talked with our blockers about watching his angle. You’re not going to stop him every time but we wanted to slow him down and get into his hitting window and I think it game him a little something to think about.”
A late rally from the Cougars was required yet again, but timely serving from setter Jonathan Wallach (13 assists, four aces) and blocking from sophomore Krys Han (four kills, three blocks) helped get Vernon Hills across the line for their first win of the season.
Glenbrook South will have a quick turnaround, as will travel to New Lenox to face off against Lincon-Way Central on Wednesday evening while Vernon Hills next play in their own highly competitive tournament this weekend.