Volleyball: Southlanders come up just short of national title
By Phil Brozynski For Sun-Times Media July 8, 2014 10:30PM
Austin Royer, of Lincoln-Way East, warms up before the game against Willowbrook at the Lincoln-Way East Volleyball Invitational, Friday, May 2nd, 2014 in Frankfort. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 9, 2014 2:13AM
That’s all that separated Lincoln-Way East teammates and All-Area selections Austin Royer and Josh Phalen from claiming a national championship to go along with the state title they won in early June.
Spiral 18 UA of Chandler, Arizona, defeated Ultimate B18 Gold — which featured Royer, Phalen and other players from the south suburbs — 21-25, 25-22, 17-15 to win the 18 Open Division at the USAV National Championships last week in Houston.
“Yeah, it was tough,” Royer said. “We played so well all nationals. That (Arizona) team just kind of came out of nowhere.”
How tough was it? Ultimate B18 Gold led 9-3 in the third set before Spiral roared back.
“It was crazy,” Royer said. “All the momentum was on our side. We switched sides up 8-3 in the third game and we had this huge play where three guys were on the ground and somebody hit the ball and we got the point.
“We were all hyped up. Momentum was on our side. Then things just started going wrong, one after another.”
Ultimate had a match point at 14-13, but was unable to hold off Spiral.
“I thought it’d be the coolest thing in the world to win both (a state title and a national title), but you can’t have everything,” Royer said.
The SouthtownStar 2014 Player of the Year and two-time All-Area selection plans to relax during the next few weeks before embarking on the next phase of his career.
“It’s hard to stay away from volleyball during summer, especially with all the sand volleyball going on,” he said. “But I’m just going to relax, take a little break, play volleyball with friends just for fun. Nothing competitive. I think I’ll just end on a high note after nationals.”
Royer will continue his career at St. Ambrose in Davenport, Iowa, where he will play for first-year coach and former Mother McAuley player Catherine Wildner.
“It’s kind of sad to leave all my club and high school teammates,” Royer said. “After nationals, we were all like, ‘Man, this is it.’ We’ve been playing together since we were 14 years old. It’s probably good for all us to see the other side of it. We’ll always keep in touch.”
Royer won’t be in totally unfamiliar company at St. Ambrose. Older brother Nate is a junior outside hitter for the Fighting Bees.
“I played with my brother before,” Austin Royer said. “It will be cool to play with him again.”
Joining Royer and Phalen on Ultimate B18 Gold were Jake Bobrowski, Zane Cecich, Brad McFarland, Mitch Perinar, Nick Vander Zanden, Jake Walenga, Matt Walsh and Mitch Weiler.
Meanwhile, Ultimate Volleyball’s second 18s team, which featured Royer’s Lincoln-Way East teammates Ryan Vorderer and Nate Van Dellen, finished 10th in the 18 Open Division after losing to NCVC Asics 18-1 20-25, 26-24, 15-13 in the Silver bracket final.
Joining Vorderer and Van Dellen on Ultimate B18 Blue were James Drynan, James Dusek, Brian Lyman, Kevin Myren, Neil Naughton, Carson Slager, Lars Torkelson, Adam Williams and Ian Zalewski.