Boys Volleyball: Lincoln-Way East’s Austin Royer the SouthtownStar 2014 Player of the Year
By Logan Malloy For Sun-Times Media June 16, 2014 9:52PM
Austin Royer, of Lincoln-Way East, sets the ball against Lincoln-Way North for the Marist Sectional Championship, Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014, in Chicago. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 18, 2014 6:17AM
How good was Austin Royer throughout his four-year career at Lincoln-Way East?
Just ask some of the regional champion coaches who had to game-plan for the Griffins’ 6-foot-2 floor general.
“In my 22 years of coaching, I don’t know if I’ve seen a better setter,” said Paul Ickes, who recently retired as Brother Rice coach. “He’s just amazing.”
“It wasn’t just his setting,” Lincoln-Way North coach Matt Lawrence said. “He did it all: the blocking, the serving, the passing.”
Those assessments won’t surprise East coach Kris Fiore, who watched a marathon of game film in preparation for the postseason and walked away even more impressed with his star setter.
“Not only can he set a great offense, but I think other coaches can see the way he runs the whole team is what really separates him apart from some other kids,” Fiore said.
Royer leaves the prep game as one of the top setters to ever come out of Illinois. He ranks fourth all-time in the state with 3,178 career assists, and holds the East record for service points (622), aces (120) and single-season assists (964).
Yet the most important number for Royer was No. 1.
That’s where the Griffins opened most 2014 preseason rankings — including this one — and finished, as Royer led East to a 41-1 record and the first state championship in program history.
“I’m still trying to get over the fact that we won,” Royer said. “I’m just soaking it all in. We’ve been fighting for all these four years to get there, and when it finally happened, it was the best feeling ever.”
In keeping the good times rolling, Royer is the SouthtownStar 2014 Boys Volleyball Player of the Year.
“It’s an awesome accomplishment,” he said. “It’s ridiculous how many good players live around the area.”
He’s seen his share up close and personal.
Royer topped Lincoln-Way North’s Jake Walenga, the SouthtownStar 2013 Player of the Year, and Brother Rice’s Mitch Weiler, a 2014 All-American, for the honors in a close three-man race.
Royer’s older brother, Nathan, was the SouthtownStar 2012 Player of the Year after leading Lincoln-Way East with 327 kills.
The siblings will team up once again at St. Ambrose.
“It’s pretty cool,” Austin Royer said. “When I first told him I was (Player of the Year), he was like, ‘Hey, I won that, too.’ It’s really exciting to be able to play with him again.”
Royer drew interest from Ball State and Lindenwood, but he said his connection with St. Ambrose was tight from the start. His sister, Amy, set the career kill record at St. Ambrose in 2010.
“I’m definitely going to look at the school my brother and sister went to because they had a lot of fun there,” he said.
With a state title under his arm, Austin Royer plans to do the same.