Boys Volleyball: Royer setting up Lincoln-Way East’s success
BY PHIL BROZYNSKI For Sun-Times Media April 5, 2013 8:34PM
Lincoln-Way East's Austin Royer (16) sets the ball during Tuesday night's game between Brother Rice and Lincoln-Way East high schools. | Paul Bergstrom ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 8, 2013 6:51AM
What does Lincoln-Way East’s Austin Royer do when he’s not playing indoor volleyball?
He plays sand volleyball.
“I hang out with my friends, watch movies, play sand volleyball,” he said. “There’s a sand volleyball court close to our house. A bunch of guys go and play during the summer. I like playing volleyball. Everything about it is fun.”
Unless you’re on the other side of the net from Royer.
A 6-foot-2, 200-pound junior, Royer has been the starting setter for Lincoln-Way East since his freshman year when he ran a 6-2 with Ryan Dexter. Last year, the Griffins ran a 5-1 and rode their sophomore setter to the sectional finals against Brother Rice.
This year, Lincoln-Way East is off to a 12-1 start with Royer quarterbacking a team that starts all juniors after graduating six of its top seven players including Royer’s brother Nate, who is now at St. Ambrose. Eleven players on the Griffins roster are juniors and one is a sophomore.
Despite their youth, the Griffins’ fast start does not surprise Royer.
“We’ve been playing together in club every year, we’re pretty good friends and we have good team chemistry,” he said. “We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we put in the time and effort in practice every day.”
Royer and his brother Nate caught the bug while watching their sister Amy play volleyball for Lincoln-Way East in the mid-2000s. Royer played junior high volleyball, then joined the Ultimate Volleyball Club in Orland Park where he plays for Ultimate 17 Gold.
“It’s funny because everybody in my family tried to teach me how to be a setter, but I was the worst,” Royer said. “Somehow, I got better.”
Royer should break John Bortoli’s school record for career assists (1,718) sometime this season. He accumulated 1,334 assists his first two years and has 279 this season. Thirty-five came last week in a 25-27, 27-25, 25-16 victory over Brother Rice at the Wheaton Warrenville South Tiger Classic.
Lincoln-Way East coach Kris Fiore said that one of Royer’s biggest assets is the strength he developed while playing football, a sport the former middle linebacker gave up after his sophomore year.
“What separates Austin is his ability to keep us running an aggressive offense even when the passing is not there,” Fiore said. “He makes us look like we’re in (a) system when other setters couldn’t. He’s just so strong. I’d be shocked if there’s another setter in the state who is as strong as he is.
“He makes a lot of stuff look easy,” the coach added. “If the ball is tight to the net, he can go up with just one hand and flick the ball to the pin. An average spectator would think it’s not too hard, but experienced people realize that what he does is not easy.”