Coach: Joann Pyritz2012 record: 21-14Top players: Marko Kostich jr. S Clayton Smentek sr. OH Aidan Spangler sr. MHFirst match: 6 p.m. Tuesday at MortonWhat to watch:
Returning setter Marko Kostich will have a big lineup featuring a number of returners to work with so the Lions will look to earn a lot of points at the net.
Clayton Smentek and Aidan Spangler, both 6-foot-4, started last year and will be top weapons for Kostich to utilize. Smentek racked up 88 kills last year while Spangler had 30 as a junior.
Ryan Temple, 6-6, and Gabe Fisher, 6-7, are a pair of seniors that will look to step into bigger roles as middle hitters this season. Junior outside Michael Dean saw some time on varsity last season and coach Joann Pyritz described him as an all-around player. Seniors defensive specialist Dom Faust and outside Kyle Smuda will also be fighting for playing time.
Coach: Dan Bonarigo2012 record: 22-15Top players: Jake Fieseler sr. L/OH Jack Gibson sr. OH Mitch Malloy sr. OHFirst game: 6 p.m. Thursday, March 21 vs. MortonWhat to watch:
The Bulldogs return eight seniors from last year, including three major contributors, and bring in seven juniors for a big team.
Jack Gibson returns at outside hitter after starting every match last season. Mitch Malloy and Jake Fieseler also return at outside hitter, though Fieseler may play libero if RB can get production from its outside without him.
"A lot of juniors got experience last year so we definitely expect a lot out of those guys coming back," said coach Dan Bonarigo. "It's been real competitive. I'm going to have high expectations for this season."
Senior middle hitters, 6-foot-4 Tim Thor-Larsen and 6-2 Mike Kosik, are expected to step into starting roles this season. Senior Scott LeBeau and junior Danny Nava will battle for the setter position. Junior Mike Chaney was one of the top hitters for the sophomores last year and should see playing time at outside hitter this spring.
The Bulldogs don't play in a conference so key matchups against West Suburban Conference teams will be crucial in determining seeding for the sectional. Morton, Oak Park-River Forest, Leyden, Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South are all on the schedule as well as invites at Willowbrook and Downers Grove North.
"I'd like to think that we have a good goal of winning a regional and competing for a sectional championship again," Bonarigo said. "We were a couple plays away from winning the sectional championship two years ago against St. Rita and then last year we fell to St. Rita in the regional championship."