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Illinois Preps Insider’s boys volleyball all-area team

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By: Luke Drase

Well it’s been quite the season.

I personally can’t remember the last time there has been this much parity, there really hasn’t been one dominant team but rather, 15-20 really, really good ones.

There was such a saturation of talented outside hitters that I probably could have made three teams of purely outsides. Unfortunately for some, a volleyball team is much more than that and some extremely good players were left out.

Two quick notes before we get into it.

-Playoff results had no impact on a players standing in this. I started putting this together well before regionals, just had a really tough time making the final cuts.

-My coverage ‘area’ basically boils down to how far am I willing to drive any given night, which is why you get the Northern and Western suburbs. Coaches from four conferences were messaged in addition to some stragglers in the catholic leagues.

Without further ado, here is your 2018 all-area team.

First Team

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OH: Jack Stevens, Libertyville

There’s not much more to say about Stevens which hasn’t already been said. An unbelievable athlete, powerful hitter, aggressive server, and can also run an offense in a pinch.

Stevens is hitting .459, which is unheard of for an outside hitter, there’s certainly a reason he’s headed to Ohio State next year.

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OH: Kevin Lamp, Lake Forest

I had a casual fan from a different school come up to me one time at a tournament to say, “He has the best jump serve I have ever seen at the high school level, it looks like a back row attack.”

Now, everybody knows Lamp does a whole lot more for Lake Forest than just jump serve and is one of the best outside hitters in the country, but it’s just an example of how awe inspiring his play really is.

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MB: JT Ardell, Glenbard West

Ardell is a perfect example of how a players impact isn’t always shown in the stat line. One of the most imposing players at the net, Ardell’s presence alone can sometimes be enough to deter hitters while also drawing the block when attacking from the middle.

In a game against Addison Trail this season, Ardell only registered a single point block, but both of the Blazers middles combined for a single kill in the entire match.

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MB: Jacob Shapiro, Deerfield

At only 6’2″ Shapiro is considered undersized by most standards for a middle hitter. However, what he lacks in height, he makes up for in incredible speed and raw athleticism.

What makes Shapiro really special though is his versatility as a middle hitter. Shapiro broke the Deerfield kills record with games to spare, and in a pinch, is very serviceable  in the back row, giving the Warriors an extra attacking option while not losing much defensively.

S: Jacob Groygo, Addison Trail

Big, powerful, setter that did just about everything for Addison Trail. Not the purest of setters in the area, but he did the most important thing a setter needs to do, run the offense as required by the personel of your team.

In Groygo’s case, he was required to attack more than most setters as he put away over 200 kills, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t dish it out as well with his 700+ assists.

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RS: Drake Johnson, Loyola

Johnson had to do a lot of the heavy lifting for Loyola in the absence of Jack Howard, not an easy task from the right side. In his first season where he was truly healthy, Johnson shone for the Ramblers leading them in kills and blocks.

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L: Matthew Zhang, Glenbrook North

Everybody knows that defense, and a balanced attack is what makes GBN go. Matthew Zhang is the anchor to the Spartans back row, and has racked up nearly 300 digs for GBN, and his near flawless serve receive allows GBN to distribute the ball all over the court.

What Zhang also does better than every other libero in the area is running the offense if the setter takes the first contact. More often than not, it will end up right in the wheel house of one of their hitters.

Second Team

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OH: Michael O’Toole, Barrington

O’Toole has just about every shot in the arsenal, which makes him extremely successful. He can hit over you, tip to an empty area, tool off the block, and does a good job on the block as well.

He has really helped carry Barrington in the later stages of the season and his talent and leadership is the reason why Barrington are going to be one very tough out in playoffs.

OH: Jake Mallioux, Hersey

MSL East player of the year and the model of consistency you want from an outside hitter in both attacking and serve receive.

Mallioux wouldn’t blow people away with 15+ kill performances, but on that same note, he would rarely fall below six.

MB: Joe Nugent, Hersey

Nugent joins his teammate in the second team because there really is little that separates the two in regards to efficiency and overall impact. Obviously Nugent may not have have the kill numbers that Mallioux has, but he was as solid as they come in the middle, hitting 45% on the season while adding over 100 blocks.

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MB: Joe D’Attomo, New Trier

When D’Attomo gets the ball, more often than not it’s going to be a kill, quite literally. D’Attomo’s hitting efficiency on the season was a shade over 50%. It’s not for lack of attempts either, despite missing some time in the middle of the season with a concussion D’Attomo still managed to rack up a impressive amount of kills when you consider how many weapons the Trevians have.

S: Sean Califf, OPRF

Athletic setter who has gotten just about everybody involved in the OPRF offense this season, while throwing in the odd attack for himself as well.

Although OPRF is usually a feature at Hoffman Estates, this is one of their best sides and Califf is a big reason for that.

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RS: Colin Hawkinson, Libertyville

With big powerful hitters such as Stevens and Brendan Cook, sometimes Hawkinson is forgotten in the Libertyville attack. But despite spending most of his time on the right side, Hawkinson is second to Stevens in kills and blocks, while also doing a servicable job in the back row.

L: Collin McCarville, York

McCarville has accumulated a ridiculous total of 421 digs, which translates to over five digs a set. That’s a pretty ridiculous number when you really break it down.

Third Team

OH: Kyle Wells, Warren

385 kills, 4.7 kills per set, all while still hitting over .300 for the season. For the gaudy number of attacks and kills that Wells had, the fact that he maintained that efficiency is pretty remarkable.

OH: Sean Ryan, Lyons

It probably wasn’t the senior year Ryan envisioned with a revolving door of setters while being point 1A on every other teams scouting report, but he still managed to put together a respectable season.

Although his kills per set decreased from the year before, he managed to up his aces, digs and blocks from the previous season, and Sam was pretty adamant of putting him on here.

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MB: Matt Cliffer, Stevenson

To say Cliffer made Stevenson a better team is a bit of an understatement. His numbers may not pop off the page, but Stevenson really struggled at the Northside Invite when they were without the services of their senior middle.

MB: Liam White, St. Pats

Middles are so tough to judge on kills alone, just because they are so dependant on a perfect pass to get them the ball.

Like many other middles on this list, White may not have eye popping kill numbers, but when he does get set, he puts them away at a 60% clip with a hitting efficiency of .486.

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S: Caedon Hsieh, Deerfield

Couldn’t What really speaks to Hsieh’s ability to run an offense with ruthless efficiency is that outside of Shapiro, Deerfield really lacks a dominant hitter.

A three year starter, Hsieh is completely in-sync with all of his hitters and was a key catalyst for Deerfield’s 20+ game winning streak over the last month and a half of the season.

RS: Derrick Jones, Vernon Hills

After moving all around the court during his three year tenure on varsity, Jones has finally settled into his right side role for his senior year.

While there has been some inconsistencies in the Cougars lineup this season, Jones has been the cornerstone, in an otherwise inconsistent lineup which included four different setters.

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L/OH: Johnny O’Shea, Palatine

Okay, I’m cheating a little bit here because I just could not bring myself to leave O’Shea off the list, but it is my all-area team and I’m convinced he could probably play libero if Palatine really needed him to.

There probably wasn’t a better defensive outside hitter this season than Johnny O’Shea. Palatine thrived on great ball control and defense, and O’Shea was no exception. In addition to his kill total, he racked up a team high in digs, blocks, serve receive rating, aces and showed his versatility by playing out on the right side when the matchup called for it.

Honorable mentions:

Evan Carroll, S Barrington
Gabe Hartke, OH Barrington
Jeff Lehrman, L Deerfield
Stone Metz, OH Glenbard West
Mike Roane, MB Glenbrook North
Thomas Cavallaro, S Glenbrook South
Jakub Migus, S Hersey
Zak Levy, MB Highland Park
Brendan Cook, OH Libertyville
Robert Elm, OH Leyden
Brian Yoo, OH Maine East
Richie Hoff, OH Maine South
Liam Skinner, MB Maine West
James Snyder, MB New Trier
Nikola Dimitrijevic, OH Niles West
Kyle Rasmussen, OH OPRF 
Luke Schattaue, OH OPRF
Connor Nix, L Palatine
Arthur Barczak, MB Rolling Meadows
Leo Chen, OH Stevenson
Brett Rosenbusch, OH St. Pats
Alex Jiang, MB Warren
Lucas Miller, S Zion Benton

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