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Boys volleyball teams look to net success this season

Wheaton Warrenville South's Jared Wilcox serves the ball during a match last season. A McKendree recruit, Wilcox is expected to pace the Tigers' offense this season.
Wheaton Warrenville South's Jared Wilcox serves the ball during a match last season. A McKendree recruit, Wilcox is expected to pace the Tigers' offense this season.

Volleyball is one sport immune to bad spring weather. High school boys teams get started next week, so here’s a look at what to watch for from teams in the area.

Wheaton North

Coach: John Noe

2013 record: 25-9

Top players:

Joe Bianco sr. DS

Hank Bowen sr. S

Graham Clark sr. MH

Jack Kirschbaum sr. OH

Joe Mullinger sr. OPP

Outlook: A 2007 Wheaton North graduate and a former Falcons player, John Noe returns to take over the program at his alma mater after being an assistant at Champaign Centennial the past two seasons.

Noe replaces Bob St. Leger, who moved on to Homewood-Flossmoor after one year at North.

“I’m extremely excited to return to Wheaton North,” Noe said. “I was speechless over the summer when I received word that I would be at the helm of the program this spring.”

He inherits a squad that had a breakout season in 2013, winning 25 matches while placing second in the DuPage Valley Conference. From that group, four starters and eight seniors return.

Three-year starter Hank Bowen leads the way on offense ,while returning libero Joe Bianco guides the defense.

“The team all knows each other very well and already has excellent chemistry,” Noe said. “What’s special about this team is that no definitive lineup has been set. All 14 guys are talented enough to start on any given night.”

Wheaton Warrenville South

Coach: Bill Schreier

2013 record: 19-18

Top players:

John Hildebrand jr. L

Kolbie Knorr jr. OH

Zack Meyer so. OH

Jared Wilcox sr. OH

Outlook: With four starters from last spring returning to the court, Wheaton Warrenville South will be looking to build off a 19-win campaign.

Jared Wilcox, a 6-foot-6 outside hitter who is committed to McKendree, leads the attack at the net and will be helped by junior Kolbie Knorr and sophomore Zack Meyer. John Hildebrand is back at the libero position, while Ben Carpio steps in at setter.

“We have a strong group of hitters coupled with great setting and very competent middles to make a well rounded team,” head coach Bill Schreier said. “[We have] a ton of athleticism that will allow us to keep our opponents on their heels as they prepare for us offensively.”

West Chicago

Coach: Kristi Hasty

2013 record: 19-18

Outlook: When coach Kristi Hasty says this year’s Wildcats are a completely new team from a year ago, she isn’t exaggerating. In fact, West Chicago has no returning varsity players after having all seniors on the roster in 2013.

Michael Quiroz will handle the setting duties, Brian Benes looks to be an offensive threat from the outside hitter position, and freshman Elijah Pinkevich also is expected to contribute.

St. Francis

Coach: Mike Lynch

2013 record: 26-10

Top players:

Greg Churney sr. OH

Joe Denny sr. OH

Jeff Jendryk sr. MH

Robert Smith sr. S

Outlook: With four returning starters back from a 26-win team a year ago, St. Francis heads into this spring with lofty expectations.

Leading the way is third-year setter Robert Smith and 6-foot-8 middle Jeff Jendryk, who will continue his volleyball career at Loyola. Also in the fold again are outside hitters Greg Churney and Joe Denny.

The Spartans also expect to get contributions from a group of newcomers that includes hitters Grant Garvey, Patrick Shearer and Dan Zurawski, and liberos Ian Thompson and Jon Messa.

“We should have a very strong team again this year,” coach Mike Lynch said. “Most of the team has had strong club experience the past year.”

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