Updated: May 27, 2014 4:03PM
1. That was fast. Brother Rice announced longtime assistant coach Dan Dwyer will replace Br. Paul Ickes, who is leaving to become the athletic director at St. Ignatius. The Crusaders graduate nine seniors in 2014, including four-year stalwart Mitch Weiler, but the cupboard isn’t bare for Dwyer. For the first time in program history, the freshman A and B, sophomore and varsity all took top honors in the Catholic League Blue.
2. It’s a sweep for Oak Forest. Behind a monster year from South Suburban Player of the Year Jeff Sprayberry, the Bengals finished 8-0 in conference play. Brett Staehlin, Zach Loeding and Dylan Ross earned all-conference, while Lee Rucinski took home Coach of the Year honors. Eisenhower (7-1) finished second and Richards (6-2), the champ the previous two seasons, took third.
3. A strong pack of big guys will return. Game-changing middle hitters are a rare commodity, but the Southland should be well represented in 2015. Lincoln-Way West’s Jake Gasparich, Eisenhower’s Rob McCoy, Lincoln-Way Central’s Connor Hipelius and Sandburg’s Kyle Van Stedum are four strong middles slated to return for their senior seasons. McCoy and Hipelius took up volleyball late but have excelled thanks to their length and athleticism. Meanwhile, Gasparich ranks first in his class, and Van Stedum is one of the area’s top defenders.