Wheaton Warrenville South
Coach: Bill Schreier
2012 record: 42-0
Greg Vlassov sr. OH
Jared Wilcox jr. OH
Ryan McCarthy sr. MH
What to watch: Having graduated 12 seniors from last year's undefeated, state champion team, one might think Wheaton Warrenville South could struggle this spring. But don't count out these Tigers just yet.
"We may struggle early as we get used to new things," said coach Bill Schreier, "but by the end we should get it together. We should be right there when it is all said and done."
Leading the way will be outside hitters Greg Vlassov and Jared Wilcox and middle Ryan McCarthy, the only three returners and a trio that saw limited action a year ago. A strong crop of new faces, headlined by seniors Richie Planek and Alex Clark, sophomore Logan Wiese and freshman Zach Meyer should immediately contribute.
The ability to compete and not let down after such a successful year is something this team will be tasked with," the coach said. "I think we have the right mix of experience from last year through our three returning players coupled with an influx of new varsity talent that possesses incredible talent potential. It will be fun to watch as they put the pieces together."
The goal for this team is to create its own legacy. Despite a lack of familiar faces, don't expect the Tigers' expectations to change.
"We believe that each year is a building block," Schreier said. "You cannot forget where you have come from, but you need to also realize that you are not playing the ghosts of teams past. We need to go out and defend what is ours in the here and now and not get too caught up in chasing ghosts."
Coach: Bob St. Leger
2012 record: 11-22
Zach Sinn sr. OH
Hank Bowen jr. S
Graham Clark jr. MH
Nick Johnson jr. S/L
What to watch: Bob St. Leger takes over the Wheaton North program after an extremely successful stint at Marist which saw him lead the Redhawks to a state title in 2010.
Now he inherits a team that is in the building stages and harbors hopes of one day reaching that point.
"I know we've had ups and downs the last few years," St. Leger said. "It's exciting anytime you start something new and these kids are great kids. The goal is to be competitive in conference — the conference is so hard. We want to get better every day and be playing our best at the end of the year."
The Falcons do return three starters in outside hitter Zach Sinn, setter Hank Bowen and middle Graham Clark. Setter/libero Nick Johnson should also be a major contributor.
"We've got good size," the coach said. "We have above-average size at every position. If we find a way to pass the ball to the setter, we should be OK offensively.
"Ball control and passing, that's something we need to get better at as the year goes on. Some of our kids play club but a lot aren't so it is a matter of getting in the gym and working on it."
As for the DVC, defending state champion Wheaton Warrenville South graduated a ton but is expected to reload. Glenbard East and the Napervilles should also be strong.
"There is not an easy win in the league," St. Leger said.
Coach: Kristi Hasty
2012 record: 17-19
Trevor Slonek sr. MH
Gus MacPherson sr. MH
Travis Kuhlmann sr. OH
Tom Becker sr. LIB
What to watch: To say that the Wildcats are an experienced bunch might be putting it lightly. In fact, all 10 players on the roster are seniors.
"We definitely have experience coming back," said West Chicago coach Kristi Hasty. "It just happened to work out that way. Most of the kids play club so hopefully that helps."
With offensive weapons Trevor Slonek, Gus MacPherson and Travis Kuhlmann ready at the net, the setting of Danny Amaro, who saw some time a year ago, will be key.
"We've got some great hitters," the coach said. "We just have to be able to connect with them. We are looking for Danny to step up and answer the bell.
"We've got some strong middles, power on the outside. We should be solid all the way around."
Another important aspect will be the team's defense, spearheaded by libero Tom Becker.
"He looks good," Hasty said. "He is really aggressive and goes for everything. That's a key, being a tough defensive team. We should be able to match up offensively. Can we match up defensively will be a key."
Competing in the DuPage Valley Conference for the final time, West Chicago will again be tested by the likes of defending state champ Wheaton Warrenville South along with Glenbard East and the Napervilles. Next season, the Wildcats make the move to the Upstate Eight Conference.
"It's always challenging," said Hasty, who has coached in the DVC for 19 years. "Our goal is to finish in the top half of the conference. We are hoping to do that in our last year.
"They are calling it the Hasty Farewell Tour. Just winning would be a great gift for me."
Coach: Mike Lynch
2012 record: 25-13
Jeff Jendryk jr. MH
Patrick Flood sr. OH
Matt Metzler sr. RSH
Joseph Santos sr. L
Robert Smith jr. S
What to watch: With five starters back in the fold in 2013, big things are expected out of the Spartans this spring.
Returning to the court are 6-foot-7 middle Jeff Jendryk along with outside hitter Patrick Flood, right side Matt Metzler, libero Joseph Santos and setter Robert Smith.
Newcomers expected to contribute include 6-5 middle Mike Murphy, outside hitter Greg Churney, right side Tim Skelly and setter Alex Shulski.
"We have a very strong team," said coach Mike Lynch. "We have the balance and skill level to match our team from three years ago that was ranked No. 9 in the nation. And we have a tough schedule that will test us early and often."
Coach: D.A. Nichols
2012 record: 16-8
Tim Robbins sr. MH
Kenneth Mill sr. MH
Daniel Gregersen sr. OH
Jeremy Vischer sr. OPP
Spencer Graf sr. OH
What to watch: Despite struggling to find consistency last spring, Wheaton Academy still racked up 16 victories.
Now, with another year of experience under their belts, the Warriors have a chance to improve upon that total.
"This is an odd year where I haven’t quite put my finger on where to set my expectations just yet," said coach D.A. Nichols. "I have seen glimpses of brilliance and then times of struggle with our inexperienced positions. My gut tells me our ceiling is high this year but the next couple weeks will solidify where we are headed this season."
A strong core of seniors — Tim Robbins, Kenneth Mill, Daniel Gregersen, Jeremy Vischer and Spencer Graf — will show the way.
"We are a good group of athletic guys with great bounce at the net," the coach said, "and our blocking and hitting potential is huge. We have been playing together for years, many since middle school at Wheaton Christian Grammar School, and there is great team chemistry."