VILLA PARK — It’s the first week of the volleyball season, but Willowbrook picked up an early statement win.
The Warriors bested rival Glenbard East 25-23, 25-19 in Villa Park on Wednesday.
The Rams, led by Penn State-bound outside hitter Joey Farrell, won 32 matches last year and have been a strong program over the last several years.
“We really wanted this and we all got fired up for this game,” said Willowbrook senior Austin Kirchner. “It’s good to know from the start of the season that we can take down a high level team.”
Kirchner had six kills and three blocks. Kirchner also helped limit the damage Farrell could do, but the Rams’ senior star still racked up a match-high 11 kills.
Willowbrook beat Larkin 25-5, 25-13 in its season opener two days earlier while Glenbard East was playing its first match of the season. It wasn’t the start the Rams were hoping for.
“We didn’t do a whole lot well this evening,” said Glenbard East coach Marci Maier. “We’re relatively young this year. We have a lot of young guys at some key positions and we’re going to work so that the mistakes that we made tonight are not continued to be made.”
Maier will use the loss as further motivation for her team before they play five matches against a competitive field of teams at the Bison Battle at Buffalo Grove on Saturday.
“Everything is practice until you get to the postseason,” Maier said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do and the boys know it. We’ll get back in the gym and get ready for our tournament this weekend.”
Willowbrook is off until April 2 when they open West Suburban Gold play against Hinsdale South.
The senior-heavy team, 12 of the 14 players on the roster are seniors, is hoping to take the program to new heights this year. Last season the Warriors won 26 matches and shared the Gold title.
“Willowbrook volleyball is definitely becoming a name around here,” said senior setter Kyle Dewyer. “The past two years we’ve had very good teams and I hope we can continue that.”
The senior leadership of the Warriors was apparent when they pulled out the tight first game. Neither team led by more than three throughout the game.
Full of confidence, Willowbrook jumped out to a 7-2 lead in game two and never looked back. The lead ballooned to 22-13 before the Rams made a last gasp run.
“Not a lot bothers them,” said Willowbrook coach Ryan Bazon. “We talk about volleyball as a game of swings. We’re going to lose momentum at some point in the match and it’s all about how we put it behind us. I think these kids did a great job of putting it behind them.”