1. Lincoln-Way North strikes back. The Phoenix takes the SouthtownStar’s top ranking after dealing Lincoln-Way East its first loss of the season Saturday in the Warren Invitational championship. Lewis recruit Jake Walenga continues to be a thorn at East’s side, posting 12 kills and earning all-tournament honors to propel North 20-25, 25-23, 25-21. Coach Matt Lawrence also mentioned standout play from setter Austin Faller and libero Scott Dusek. The season series is tied 1-1. The pair could meet three more times before it’s all said and done.
2. Lockport is fired up. The Porters are headed in the right direction under first-year head coach Nick Mraz. Lockport showed enthusiasm and hustle — which wasn’t always present last year — when it rallied on the road to beat a tough-serving Oak Forest. Matt Sadler and Jon Wheaton are two capable middle hitters, to go along with outsides Adam Krzos and Mike Karl.
3. Serve it hot. A slew of dangerous jump-servers dot the Southland, but six of the best include Andrew’s Sanil Thomas, Lincoln-Way Central’s Adam Sargis, Marist’s Jake Moran, Richards’ Ed Karalius, Oak Forest’s Jeff Sprayberry and Lincoln-Way North’s Brad McFarland. Sargis recorded seven aces against Richards, Thomas owns 25 aces on the season and McFarland has 72 service points. Both McFarland and Karalius are headed to Dominican next season.