Men’s College Volleyball: Eisenhower standouts boost Lincoln’s new program
By Logan Malloy For Sun-Times Media June 15, 2014 8:44PM
Eisenhower's Alec Esparza stretches for a Reavis shot at Reavis, Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 in Burbank. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 17, 2014 11:28AM
First they were pillars. Now they’ll be building blocks.
After pushing Eisenhower’s volleyball program to new heights — breaking the program’s win milestone three years in a row — recent graduates Alec Esparza and Lukasz Kupiec now will try to put a new program on the map.
The duo committed to continue their careers at Lincoln College, which will launch its inaugural men’s volleyball team next season.
“We’re kind of making history,” Kupiec said. “Not only do I get to do what I love, but I get to help start up a college program.”
It’s a dream Kupiec thought never might materialize.
“As soon as club season was over, I thought my chances were over,” Kupiec said of netting interest from colleges. “I never really heard of people getting recruited through high school teams, but the impossible happened.”
While watching Esparza, Lincoln coach Mark Tippett spotted Kupiec piloting the Eisenhower attack. The rest is history.
“I was bummed I wasn’t going to be playing volleyball anymore,” Kupiec said. “When I found out about Lincoln, I was so relieved and excited.”
Tippett, who also is the women’s coach at Lincoln, had been trying to start a men’s program at the school for years. He said the rapid growth of the boys volleyball scene around the state helped spark the movement.
“Chicago has the most well-developed high school and club system in the Midwest,” Tippett said. “But as the game grows in Chicago, there’s been growth in other areas. The St. Louis area has added teams. The Rockford area added teams. It’s really growing boys volleyball.”
Esparza, a SouthtownStar All-Area selection, said he chose Lincoln because it felt like a good fit both athletically and from an education standpoint.
“To be able to start the legacy there is something I really like,” said Esparza, who will study Special Education with a concentration on teaching the deaf and hard of hearing.
“I’ve grown up with special-needs kids. I think they’re attracted to me,” Esparza said. “I was part of Eisenhower’s Peer Buddy program that lets students interact with special-needs kids. We make T-shirts, go bowling and go to football games. A lot of times they don’t have that opportunity. It’s great to just be able to interact with them.”
Lockport outside hitter Adam Krzos also is part of Tippett’s first recruiting class.