Boys volleyball notebook: Precision taking the place of power for some teams

Plainfield North's Nathan Chlebek (18) serves during volleyball match between Neuqua Valley at Plainfield North.  April 29, 2024.

Power has always been a big part of volleyball, in both the girls and boys games.

This season, however, more boys teams are placing additional emphasis on accuracy when it comes to serving and attacking rather than hitting the ball as hard as they can.

“We are figuring things out, especially at the service line,” Bolingbrook coach Molly DeSerf said. “We have changed our mentality of serving this year. We want to make sure we get our serves inbounds.

“Serving errors are just free points for the other team. We want to get the ball in and let our defense work and start the offense.”

Plainfield North has employed the same theory; the Tigers also have included their attacks in their accuracy arsenal.

“We want the kids to try to look at the court on the other side when they attack,” Plainfield North coach Nick Ramos said. “We don’t want to be hitting right into the defense. If we can tip or place the ball where there aren’t any defenders, we will be more successful.

“We [the North coaches] went against the kids in practice and we were tipping and hitting to where they weren’t, and getting points. That got them understanding what we were talking about. It doesn’t matter how hard you hit it if it’s not inbounds. We want to get the ball inbounds and make the other team make plays.”

Lincoln-Way East’s Matthew Muehinickel hits a shot against Plainfield North on Tuesday, April 2, 2024.

Tourney time

Lincoln-Way East hosted a 24-team invitational last weekend, featuring several of the state’s top teams. Marist won the championship in the Gold Bracket, which featured the winners of the eight three-team pools, beating Glenbard West in the title match. Lincoln-Way East finished third, beating Downers Grove North in the third-place match, Lockport was sixth and Lincoln-Way West eighth.

In the Silver Bracket, Plainfield East took fourth after losing to Brother Rice in the third-place match. In the Bronze Bracket, Lincoln-Way Central beat Minooka in the title match, and Joliet Catholic Academy took eighth.

Earning all-tournament recognition from the area were Plainfield East opposite hitter Braxton Francis, Lincoln-Way West middle blocker David Neylon, Lockport setter Evan Dziadkowiec, and Lincoln-Way East setter Kyle Swarens.

Joliet West’s Landon Brouwer sets the ball against Plainfield Central on Tuesday, April 23, 2024 in Plainfield.

Postseason pairings

Most area volleyball teams will take part in the Bolingbrook Sectional, which will consist of regionals at Lockport, Joliet West, Joliet Catholic Academy and Oswego East. The three Lincoln-Way schools have been sent to the Collinsville Sectional. Lincoln-Way West and Lincoln-Way Central will play in the Homewood-Flossmoor Regional, while Lincoln-Way East, the top seed in the sectional, will play in the Chicago Heights Marian Regional.

In the Joliet West Regional, the Tigers, seeded fourth, will take on No. 29 Montini at 5 p.m. Monday. May 20, followed by No. 13 Providence Catholic vs. No. 20 Waubonsie Valley at 6 p.m., No. 5 Bolingbrook vs. No. 28 Plainfield Central at 7 p.m. and No. 12 Downers Grove South vs. No. 21 Yorkville at 8 p.m. The winners of the first two matches will play in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. May 21, with the winners of the final two matches playing at 6:30 p.m.. The title match will be at 5 p.m. Thursday. May 23.

In the Lockport Regional, No. 15 Lemont plays No. 18 Plainfield North at 5 p.m. Monday, May 20, followed by No. 7 Hinsdale South vs. No. 26 Naperville North at 6 p.m. and No. 10 Glenbard East vs. No. 23 Naperville Central at 7 p.m. The Lemont-Plainfield North winner will play No. 2 Lockport in a semifinal match at 5 p.m. Tuesday. May 21, with the winners of the other two matches playing at 6 p.m. The title match is at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 23.

In the JCA Regional, No. 3 Downers Grove North will play No. 30 Villa Park Islamic Foundation at 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 20, followed by No. 14 Minooka vs. No. 19 Joliet Central at 6:30 p.m. On Tuesday, May 21, No. 6 Benet Academy will play No. 27 JCA at 5:30 p.m., with No. 11 Oswego playing No. 22 Glenbard South at 6:30 p.m. The semifinals are Wednesday, May 22, with the Monday winners playing at 5:30 p.m. and the Tuesday winners playing at 6:30 p.m.. The title match is at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 23.

In the Oswego East Regional, 16th-seeded Plainfield South will play No. 17 Villa Park at 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 20, followed by No. 8 Plainfield East vs. No. 25 Neuqua Valley at 6:30 p.m. and No. 9 Oswego East vs. No. 24 Romeoville at 7:30 p.m.. The winner of the first match will play top-seeded Glenbard West on Tuesday at 5:30 in the semifinals and the winners of the second and third matches will face each other on the same day at 6:30. The title match is set for Thursday, May 23 at 6 p.m.

In the Homewood-Flossmoor Regional, No. 6 Oak Forest plays No. 7 Andrew at 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 20, followed by No. 3 H-F vs. No. 10 Tinley Park at 6:30 p.m. and No. 5 Lincoln-Way Central vs. No. 8 Bremen at 7:30 p.m. In the semifinals May 21, No. 2 Lincoln-Way West will play the Oak Forest-Andrew winner at 5:30 p.m., with the winners of the other two Monday matches playing at 6:30 p.m. The title match is 6 p.m. Thursday, May 23.

In the Marian Regional, No. 1 Lincoln-Way East will play No. 15 Kankakee on Monday, at 5 p.m. Monday, May 20., followed by No. 11 Crete-Monee vs. No. 12 TF North at 6 p.m. On Tuesday, May 21, No. 4 Marian will play No. 14 Bloom Township at 5 p.m., followed by No. 9 Bishop McNamara vs. No. 13 Rich Township at 6 p.m. The two Monday winners will play in the first semifinal at 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, with the two Tuesday winners playing at 6 p.m. The title match is at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 23.