Buffalo Grove edges out Conant in title match


It must have been a shock to the system for fans and players leaving Conant at the end of Saturday’s varsity boys’ volleyball invite.

Snowflakes the size of silver dollars and near-whiteout conditions greeted the crowds, a typical example of Chicagoland’s crazy April weather.

Inside the gymnasium, however, Buffalo Grove, Conant, Lemont and St. Francis had found a way to heat things up.

Buffalo Grove clinched the tournament championship with a thrilling 3-set victory over Conant, while Lemont also went 3 games to win the 3rd place match against the Spartans.

“We have a lot of talent on this team,” Bison coach Tim Kosiek said. “Our goal is to mentally maintain the advantage throughout each set.”

“Sometimes we do these great runs to get to 15, but our goal is to keep pushing beyond that and not letting our opponents run races. We keep looking at the smallest details, talking, communicating and minimize errors.

BG won their red pool matches in straight sets against Maine West, St. Francis and St. Patrick, then won a tough match against Lemont, in 3 games, in the semi-finals.


“Lemont is an exceptional team,” Kosiek said. “I was really impressed with them, and Conant are a solid team as well and they played with a lot of fire today.”

Just like BG did in the title match, Lemont dropped a set on their third place tilt but came back to win 27-25, 22-25, 15-11.

“We really brought it in the first few games today, and it’s a shame we lost to Buffalo Grove,” Lemont senior outside hitter Van Gaetto said. “This game was very close, and I can’t wait to play it next time.”

Second-year Libero Nathan Tilly had 55 digs for the third-place winners. Senior Jacob TerMaat finished with 24 kills and 67 assists, Cael Whitchurch added 64 assists and Gaetto had 37 kills and 36 digs.

“Buffalo Grove are very, very good,” Lemont coach Chris Zogata said, “so it was a good test to play them and see where we are. Everyone contributed today. We We played well as a team, we moved the ball and everyone got involved. As a coach, that’s what you want to see.”

Gaetto said it was difficult for his side to bring the energy into the third-place game after the brutal semi-final loss to BG, but he was proud of his teammates for the way they responded.

“We were mentally drained at the start (against St. Francis),” Gaetto said, “but we found a way to make it work. If it wasn’t for the energy we recovered on and off the ground, we wouldn’t have I didn’t win.”

Conant won matches against St. Ignatius, Lakes and Lemont in the blue pool, then in the semifinals against St. Francis to earn his ticket to the championship round.

The Cougars won Game 1 against BG and led Game 2 halfway before falling just short. They were paced in the tournament by setter Dhruv Patel (97 assists, 17 digs, 15 kills), Nic Breiter (36 kills) and Michael Recko (29 kills and 36 digs).

“We played well,” Conant coach Drewann Pancratz said. “We try to improve every day as a team and the kids came out and played hard today.”

“Dhruv (Patel) got up and did a great job moving the ball, and our midfielder Maks (Zalesinski) is working really hard in transition.”

St. Francis’ fourth-place effort came behind stellar play by 6-foot-3 passer Kyle Zediker (95 assists) and JT McCormick on defense (44 digs).

“I’m very happy with the way we played today,” Spartans coach Mike Lynch said. “We’re very young, with six sophomores, and we’ve graduated nine players from our team that was ranked No. 1 all last season.”

“It was great to see the young guys stepping up. They responded today and competed really well. And in the last game (against Lemont) our setter (Zediker) fell and we had a kid who didn’t. never played a setter before, Chris Rojas, step up.

“Chris took us to three sets, he did a great job, and as a coach I couldn’t have been happier about that.”

For title-winning Buffalo Grove, Connor Dell led the way for the day with 55 kills and 8 aces.

Dan Feder added 32 kills for the Bison, Piotr Wymoczyl had 34 kills, 2 aces and 14 blocks, and Colin Shin participated with 20 kills.

“We won (some games) with authority today,” Kosiek said, “which is good, and I said to the kids ‘win with authority and go out with humility’ because we realize that’s a game, and we are lucky to play it.

“I thought Piotr, our midfielder, was exceptional today, as well as Colin in the midfield. They are both weapons, as are our outsides, Dan and Connor. We have a great group and I’m delighted to see where this will lead.”


Comments are closed.