HOFFMAN ESTATES – Glenbard West's graduation and the state quarterfinal boys volleyball match were scheduled to start at about the same time so it's a good thing the Hilltoppers won quickly to head to the ceremony with good news.
West beat Morton 25-14, 25-18 to advance to Saturday's semifinal against Warren at 11 a.m. at Hoffman Estates High School.
Junior Jackson Nagle led the Hilltoppers with 11 kills and Kyler Kotsakis added 10. Paulie Bischoff dished out 29 assists and led the defensive effort with 10 digs.
After the win, the seniors were rushed to graduation and only juniors came into the press room for interviews.
"It was definitely a different experience than different games we had because it's just weird going off into another gym and coming back," Nagle said. "We weren't accustomed to it and it took a while to get in the flow of things."
The Hilltoppers (34-6) jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first game before Morton battled back to tie at 9-9. West closed on a 16-5 run.
"There was a good sense of urgency since it could be so many of the seniors' last games so we all really want to give them that final memory of leading West to a win," Ryan Condon said.
Morton (22-10) kept it close early on in the second game as well, trailing just 11-10 before the Hilltoppers scored the next three points and gradually added to the lead after that.
"We tried our hardest," Morton senior Alex Olivares said. "There was a really big height disadvantage. We played good defense, but they executed more than we did so they deserved to win."
Daniel Ibarra had eight kills to lead Morton. Andrew Franco had four. Andres Guerrero led Morton with 16 assists and nine digs.
The Hilltoppers only other semifinal appearance came in 2011, when they finished fourth.