It might be the big story of the spring sports season. And it was completely unexpected and that made it even more fun for those involved. It's the boys volleyball squad of Warren Township High School.
Clearly, the squads from Vernon Hills and Lake Zurich had better seasons than the Warren squad did. And for that matter, add Deerfield to that equation as well. So imagine the news that Warren's squad, coached by Yun Chen, finished second in the state of Illinois. And they just missed winning a state title over a squad that had lost once all year.
So now it's time for our boys volleyball squad for the Lake County Suburban Life newspaper. Of course, Warren will place a number of players from that special team. However, our first player of the year doesn't come from Warren. He's 6-foot-4 slugger Dalton Solbrig of Lakes High School. Clearly a most dangerous hitter.
Put it this way even Vernon Hills coach, Chris Curry, nominated Solbrig for all-state team.
"He's a great hitter,'' Curry said.
Solbrig stepped up for the Eagles this spring as Lakes had a strong season. And the good news for Lakes is Solbrig is a junior and will be back next year.
"He has developed great court sense and strong leadership skills,'' said Lakes coach Katie Cheek. "He pushes the other players in practice every day with tremendous strength and game knowledge."
Solbrig's season included 247 kills, 76 blocks and 35 serving aces.
Now of course plenty of Warren players belong on this team.
It starts with that most excellent setter. Arvind Kouta had an exceptional season. He crossed over the 1,000 assists mark this year. He finished with 1,021 assists to with 33 blocks, 52 kills, 33 blocks and 107 digs.
"Arvind had an incredible year for a setter,'' said Warren coach Yun Chen. "For Arvind, he is a smart setter, and he worked so hard to become a great setter during the off-season."
Kouta graduates as Warren's all time leaders in season and career assists.
Also from Warren comes senior Mitch Maan de kok. The Warren middle blocker had 232 kills and 65 blocks.
"Mitch had an incredible year and a great career at Warren,'' Chen said. "Each year, he improved so much. Mitch has a great work ethic, and never complains about anything."
Max Bongratz from Warren also had a strong year for the Blue Devils. He was the team's leading blocker (66 blocks). He also checked in with 165 kills. He was a big part of the march to state.
"About two weeks before the playoffs started, he started to put the ball away very consistently and very efficiently."
Bryant Holland might have been the player who guided his Warren team to state. He had a great match in the win over Deerfield to send Warren to state.
His 234 kills led the Warren team. Chen noted that Holland is already taking steps to join Warren history. He has more than 400 kills and 400 digs in his two seasons and only one Warren player previously has accomplished that.
Another gifted player from Warren was right side hitter, Jeremy White. He had 230 kills this season. He was also very effective at the serving line with his 41 aces. He also added 84 digs and 64 blocks.
"Jeremy worked really hard during the offseason to become a starter at the right side for us,'' Chen said.
Lakes had another special player. He's also known for his soccer skills. However, the 6-foot outside hitter, Richard Galat, had a strong season for the Eagles.
"Richard is one those players with tremendous athletic ability,'' Cheek said. "He can handle anything your throw at him. We would have had a successful season without him."
Galat led Lakes with 279 kills and 192 digs.
Now Carmel did not have a good year. And a bulk of that was because of injuries. However, senior middle hitter, Brad Gadek, had a strong season. He had 98 blocks. Antioch battled along with a young team. Sophomore setter, Nathan Borries, notched 181 assists and had 31 blocks.