CICERO – Morton's boys volleyball team has been building towards this season for the past few years and it paid off.
The Mustangs won a sixth straight regional title by beating Fenwick 25-11, 25-9 in the final on May 28 and advanced to Tuesday's sectional final against Oak Park-River Forest by knocking off Riverside Brookfield 25-19, 25-16 on Friday.
Morton had lost in a sectional semifinal each of the past three seasons. In 2009 and 2010, the Mustangs advanced to the state finals.
"It's been a lot of guys that have been on varsity since their sophomore year," coach Tony Hornilla said. "This team, we've been working towards this. That's how I have to do it. I can't go from year-to-year. I have to build them up over the course of a couple years to get to this point, where as some schools it's perennial."
Against RB, Daniel Ibarra led Morton with nine kills, but it was a balanced attack for the Mustangs. Andrew Franco had eight kills and Alex Olivares smacked down six.
"Statistics-wise we did a pretty good job of spreading the ball around," Hornilla said. "We're pretty consistent at spreading the ball around. In terms of kills for starters, they're pretty close to each other. They're not that far apart."
In addition to a balanced attack, Morton has had to overcome a lack of height. Outside of middle hitter Rashaad Mathis, who sat out Friday's match while recovering from injury, the Mustangs don't feature any imposing figures at the net.
As a result, the Mustangs have to do more to catch opposing defense's off guard.
"We try to run stuff very quick," Hornilla said. "That's just the way we have to play to beat the bigger blocks. We've been doing that since 2004 or 2003 when our players started getting smaller and smaller as the years went by."
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