Through the opening passage of each set, Addison Trail gave Glenbard West all they could handle.
The Blazers seemed well within striking distance of the top-ranked Hilltoppers, but one poor rotation was all Glenbard West needed to run away with a 25-13, 25-14 win.
“We’ve been talking all year where if you can find a place where you can keep the ball, you have to play high alert on defense,” said Glenbard West head coach Christine Giunta-Mayer. “We found a spot where we could win two or three points and cushion the lead and I thought the kids did a really good job of holding onto those positions.”
Although Glenbard West thoroughly dominated down the stretch, the Hilltoppers initially struggled with stoping Addison Trail setter Jacob Grygo.
The 6’5″ lefty was aggressive early, not only with his set selection but with his attacking ability as well, as he began the match with two kills.
“He’s awesome,” said Giunta-Mayer. “We’ve been working on aggressive setters but he’s an amazing setter and he’s going to get his points. We were just hoping to limit him because he can take over a game.”
However, it did not take long for Glenbard West’s defense adjust to Grygo and the rest of Addison Trail as the Blazers only tallied 15 kills in total, none of which coming from their middle hitters.
“We’re not an aggressive serving team, that’s no secret, but they’re hitting their spots. If we do our job on the line, it allows our front line and second line defense to do their job,” said Giunta-Mayer. “When you break up someone’s serve receive it makes it easier on your defense.”
While Glenbard West’s defense continued to thrive, it was their own setter Henry Curtis who led the offensive charge.
In just two sets Curtis dished out 25 assists, distributing the ball to all different areas of the court as five Glenbard West’s attackers finished the match with at least three kills.
Giunta-Mayer said: “I really like Henry’s demeanor on the floor. He’s so coachable and he’s learning every day getting better.”
With such a convincing victory, it’s sometimes easy to forget how young Glenbard West really is.
The Hilltoppers start just two seniors, and despite their seemingly lack of experience, the only blemish in their 10-1 start to the season came in their second match against an extremely talented, (and senior laden) Lincoln-Way East side.
“This team knows what they want and they knew it was going to be a process of patience,” said Giunta-Mayer. “It’s never as fast as a coach wants, but I am so pleased with their progression. We’ve changed but so have other teams, and we have to keep up with what everybody else is doing and right now I’m very happy with where we’re at.”
The sky continues to be the limit for Glenbard West, and their quest to become the first ever boys volleyball program to win four straight state titles is as realistic as ever.