Although an early season matchup between Glenbrook North and Wheaton-Warrenville South has become an annual tradition of sorts, it always seems the setting would be more appropriate at Hoffman Estates with state title implications on the line.
The two powerhouse programs faced off for GBN’s home opener where the hosts came back after a poor opening set to beat the Tigers 22-25, 25-19, 25-14 to improve to 3-3 on the season.
“We always like to start the season with tough matches just to see where we’re at,” said GBN coach Chris Cooper. “Before we get into conference we want to see what are weaknesses are and playing good competition helps us with that.”
A sloppy first set was not what most anticipated when watching two teams of such a high caliber, but GBN struggled with their ball control leading to sets off the net and attacking errors.
Wheaton-Warrenville South took advantage of GBN’s rare inefficient offense by camping out on certain hitters and recorded three stuff blocks, while Josh Gottlieb’s four kills paved the way for the Tigers offensively.
Cooper said: “It was the first home game so there may have been a little jitters. I don’t really know what is was, but out ball handling wasn’t good enough to get us into a good rhythm offensively.”
GBN were able to gain some momentum back late in the set as they fought off three set points, but the early deficit was too much to overcome as Wheaton-Warrenville South took the opener.
A change of scheme from a 6-2 to a 5-1 offense to go along with improved serve receive drastically improved the GBN attack, but three straight aces from Wheaton-Warrenville South’s Zeo Meyer (15 assists, 4 kills, 4 aces, two blocks) put the Tigers in control yet again.
This time however, GBN responded with a serving run of their own. Jack Ferber (10 kills, 5 digs) and Jackson Weil (25 assists, 3 aces) led the charge from behind the service line to turn a six point deficit into a 25-19 set two win.
“Jack only had one ace but in that one run, they didn’t get a good swing in eight or nine points,” said Cooper. “There’s more to serving than just the ace and I think we all started to serve a little bit better and we started to pick on certain guys and they started to struggle just like we did in the first game.”
With Wheaton-Warrenville South still reeling from the set two loss, GBN jumped on the Tigers straight away, getting out to a quick 6-1 lead which prompted an early timeout from the Tigers.
The timeout did little to slow down GBN, as Weil and the Spartans continued to pick apart the Wheaton-Warrenville South defense as six different players from GBN registered kills in the final set.
Cooper said: “Both Jackson and Daniel [Lee] have both been setting pretty well, so we tried to run the 6-2, but with a 5-1 there’s just a little more flow to the game and Jackson did a nice job tonight.”
GBN would put in on cruise control after getting up 13-4 before eventually taking the decisive set 25-14 for their second consecutive win over Wheaton-Warrenville South.
Glenbrook North will look to carry the momentum from Wednesday’s win into Thursday’s rivalry match against Glenbrook South, while Wheaton-Warrenville South will look to get back to their winning ways on Monday against Lincoln-Way East.