HINSDALE – Kyle Blane and Alex Garwood were two members of a freshmen class that watched from the stands as the 2011 Glenbard West boys volleyball team brought home a fourth-place trophy from the IHSA state tournament.
Now as seniors, they are main parts of a Hilltoppers squad that is making a return trip to the state quarterfinals after winning the Hinsdale Central sectional Tuesday with a 25-15, 25-16 victory against Naperville Central.
Glenbard West will take on Morton at 6 p.m. Friday on the same night the seniors are set to graduate.
"It was a great experience for us," said Blane of a senior class that also includes Andrew Roberts, Max Montgomery, Trevor Light and Peter Scruggs, "and we kept thinking, that's what we want to do as seniors. That's helped motivate us to get to where we are."
"I remember as a freshman, following the team to state and going to every single game," he said. "It was the same thing, every game was better and better."
This time around, Glenbard West has had a goal all spring of peaking at the right time and that is exactly what has transpired. Totaling 17 blocks in the match, the Hilltoppers put forth a dominant effort against the Redhawks, who came in as the No. 1 seed in the sectional.
"We knew Naperville Central was a fantastic team," Garwood said, "and we stepped up to the challenge. Give a lot of credit to our coaches, they gave us a great scouting report and we have smart enough guys to follow it. I would say that's the best match we've played all year."
Kyler Kotsakis totaled 10 kills and nine blocks, Jackson Nagle finished with eight kills and Paulie Bischoff dished out 32 assists.
"It's our second time down," Glenbard West coach Christine Giunta-Mayer said. "We said if we can get out of the sectional, this is the toughest sectional in the state. Thirteen out of the last 15 years downstate, the team that has come out of this sectional has been in the championship game.
"Playoffs can bring the best out of teams and the playoffs are bringing the best out of us. They have become a unified force together and all of them should be taking credit for it."
Glenbard West had captured the championship at the regional it hosted with a 25-20, 25-9 win against Benet on May 28.
Bischoff had 24 assists to go with six kills and Kotsakis added 10 kills and three digs. Garwood also contributed 14 digs.
If you go
What: IHSA boys volleyball state quarterfinals
Who: Glenbard West vs. Morton
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Where: Hoffman Estates High School, 1100 W. Higgins Road, Hoffman Estates