Boys volleyball: Glenbard West outlasts Lyons in three sets in state quarterfinal

Hilltoppers will face Marist in semifinals

Glenbard West's Xzavion Willett (22) and Casey Maas (1) block a shot by Lyons' Brody Lee-Caracci (4) during the IHSA Boys Volleyball State Quarterfinals Friday May 31, 2024 in Hoffman Estates.

HOFFMAN ESTATES – Coming off a big second set win in its state quarterfinal matchup against the two-time defending state champions, Lyons Township hoped to start the third set with more momentum.

So when a first rally kill appeared to go down, some of the Lions turned around and started celebrating.

But the ball wasn’t down.

Instead, it was dug up by junior opposite side hitter Charlie Clifford for his only dig of the match. That led to a kill by senior middle hitter Xzavion Willett and Glenbard West had the first point.

While a half dozen ties followed through 6-6, Lyons never had a third set lead and never got the needed momentum.

But the Hilltoppers did as they took charge with a 13-3 blitz shortly after and went on to a 25-20, 22-25, 25-15 victory in the opening state quarterfinal match at Hoffman Estates.

“We talk about that all the time, just getting one point,” Glenbard West coach Christine Giunta-Mayer said. “It doesn’t have to be perfect, just get it up in the air.

“I’m so proud of our character. There was great communication from everyone.”

It was a rematch of last season’s state title meeting, which the Hilltoppers won 25-18, 25-20. They also defeated visiting Lyons 25-22, 25-23 on May 14 in a West Suburban Conference clash.

Glenbard West (37-3) advanced to the semifinal at 10 a.m. Saturday and will bring home an unprecedented 10th straight trophy. The Hilltoppers will play Marist, a 25-17, 25-15 winner over Payton in the fourth matchup this season against the two top teams in the state.

Marist (37-2) has won two of the three meetings.

“We’ve all practiced a lot and scouted,” Glenbard West senior libero Andrew Ellis said of facing Marist again. “We know them. We just have to stay mentally strong.”

That’s what they did during the 13-3 burst as senior outside hitter Casey Maas (14 kills, 3 blocks, 4 digs) had a trio of kills and a block in the burst, which gave the Hilltoppers a 19-9 lead,

“We knew it would be a battle,” Maas said. “We wanted to be loud and come out with energy. We’ve had to battle the entire way throughout the postseason (winning three-set matches against Plainfield East and Bolingbrook). So we just had to stay calm and fight through it.”

Willett walloped 13 kills and had seven blocks, Clifford chipped in with six kills, senior opposite side hitter Adam Graham garnered five kills and five digs, senior setter Jack Anderson added 32 assists and Ellis had seven digs and three assists.

Luka Kostic creamed a match-high 16 kills for Lyons (34-6). Fellow senior outside hitter Zaccary Ruiz added nine kills, sophomore opposite side hitter Brody Lee-Caracci had eight kills, senior setter Tommy Culver added 35 assists and junior libero Vaughn Guilfoile contributed eight digs for the Lions.

Glenbard West used a 6-2 burst to take a 14-8 lead in the first set. The Lions closed within 21-20 but Maas mashed a pair of kills in a 4-0 run to end it.

In the second set, it was Lyons with a 13-3 run of its own to take a 16-8 lead. The Hilltoppers battled back to within 23-22 but a net violation and a kill from Kostic ended the second set.

“It was still a good match. We went three and gave ourselves an opportunity,” Lyons coach Brad Skendzel said. “In the third set, we just got in a rotation and got a little tense. But Glenbard West doesn’t make errors and it’s hard to shut down Willett and Maas.”

Kostic remained positive.

“A lot of people thought of our previous matches,” he said of facing the Hilltoppers again. “But we just wanted to play volleyball and treat it like any other game. We had a great season and it was a great feeling coming back here again to Hoffman Estates.”

Randy Whalen

Randy Whalen - Shaw Local News Network Correspondent

Randy Whalen is a contributing reporter to Shaw Local, covering high school sports in Will County