Boys Volleyball: Lincoln-Way East aims for top of the state heap
By Logan Malloy For Sun-Times Media June 5, 2014 7:54PM
At Hoffman Estates High School
New Trier (32-7) vs.
Lake Park (32-6), 1 p.m.
Lincoln-Way East (38-1) vs.
Edwardsville (22-11), 2 p.m.
Payton (30-7) vs.
Warren (26-13), 5 p.m.
Glenbard West (33-6) vs.
Morton (22-9), 6 p.m.
Semifinals, 10 a.m., 11 a.m.
Third place, 4 p.m.
Championship, 5:15 p.m.
Updated: July 7, 2014 6:32AM
Don’t expect Lincoln-Way East to be rattled by the hoopla surrounding its first trip to the state quarterfinals in seven years.
East understands pressure situations.
“I don’t think Hoffman (Estates, site of the tournament) will be too big of a stage for them,” East coach Kris Fiore said. “They’ve been on (Comcast) like six times.”
Television crews frequently have called because the Griffins (38-1) are that good.
East owns two-set wins over three of the other state quarterfinalists, and its only loss — which came vs. Lincoln-Way North — was avenged four times, including in the Marist Sectional championship to get to state.
“We’re not done yet,” said East’s Austin Royer, one of the elite setters in Illinois. “We all really want that ring at the end.”
Here’s how the Griffins will try to earn a state championship with three victories in two days. East’s first match is 2 p.m. Friday against Edwardsville (21-12).
Outside hitters Ryan Vorderer and Nate Van Dellen lead the Griffins in scoring. Both are committed to play at Lindenwood next season in the MIVA, a conference that features NCAA champion Loyola, Ohio State and Lewis, to name a few.
Vorderer seems to be the go-to guy in crunch time, but Van Dellen is just as adept at putting balls away. They’ve been one of the top outside combos in the state this season.
East’s passing and Royer’s vision allow the Griffins to deploy a balanced attack.
“If you play all around, it’s really hard to keep track of were the ball is going,” Royer said. “I think that’s a key to the game: to keep (the opponent) guessing.”
Middle hitters Aaron Redweik and Carson Slager are the first line of East’s defense. They aren’t towering, but both have speed and can cover ground when it comes to blocking or getting touches at the net.
The 6-foot-3 Redweik is especially explosive, as his 11-4 touch allows him to scrape near the top of the white rectangle on a basketball backboard.
If an opposing attack slips by East’s block, libero Josh Phalen is usually there to clean it up. Phalen, too, is headed to the MIVA to play for Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.
The rest of the field
The top quarterfinal on paper is New Trier (32-7) vs. Lake Park (32-6), two teams that East topped during the season. The Griffins will be forced to play one of them again Saturday in the semifinals if they get by Edwardsville.
Lincoln-Way North coach Matt Lawrence thinks the field will have its work cut out for them against East.
“How do you beat this team? That’s still a mystery to me,” Lawrence said. “When they’re passing the ball well, they’re extremely difficult to beat. They have many weapons.”
In the other half of the bracket, Glenbard West (33-6) seems to be getting hot at the right time. West started four sophomores when it took fourth at the 24-team Brother Rice Smack Attack. It’s been the second-stingiest team behind East this postseason.
The Griffins outscored its four playoff opponents 200-121, whereas West outpointed the opposition 200-127.
West would have to defeat Morton in the quarterfinals and then the winner of city champion Payton vs. Warren for a potential clash with East in the state finals.