Returning state players lead men’s volleyball to success

Courtesy of Anna Mazzucchelli

LEAPING LEBRYK: Focused on the ball, senior captain Anthony Lebryk prepares for a spike against Stevenson. Anthony had five kills, one ace and six blocks in this game. The Titans won in two sets (25- 14, 25-11).

Sam Casey, staff writer

The men’s volleyball team is hoping to bump, spike and set themselves up for another state appearance this season, according to head coach Tim Monahan. Last season, the team went 29-12 and finished fourth in state.
“We have a core group back from last year,” Monahan said. “[The] group [with] varsity experience has really brought along the other guys. They get out on the court and work well together whether it’s in practice or in a game.”
There are seven returning players from last year’s state team and eight new players on varsity, according to Monahan. One of the returning players, senior middle blocker Anthony Lebryk, is playing Division I volleyball at Ball State University next year, according to Monahan.
“He pushes all the guys around him, on his side of the net and the guys on the other side of the net, to work hard and compete and to want to win,” Monahan said. “[Lebryk] gets out on the court and he wants to win. That attitude is contagious. It’s good to have a student athlete like that who sets the bar high for everyone else.”
In addition to Lebryk, juniors Paul Rafalo and Wes Blodig are currently being recruited by Division I colleges, according to Monahan. As a whole, Lebryk thinks the team works well together.
“We’ve a lot of young guys on our team and a couple returning guys,” Lebryk said. “They will be a good team, and chemistry will come with playing more often.”
The team started off the season 2-0, according to Monahan. The team beat both Stevenson (25-14, 25-11) and Vernon Hills (25-19, 25-23).
“Stevenson is typically a pretty strong team, [but they were] down this year,” Monahan said. “My guys went out and played tough from the first serve to the last serve, [… ]and they didn’t play down [to Stevenson’s level].”
Lebryk also agrees that the team played well in the first two games. Lebryk said he is confident that the team is going to beat North this year, a team South hasn’t beat in 10 years.
“We learned the weaknesses early on, and [we] were able to adjust from there,” Lebryk said. “Overall, I thought it was a very positive and promising start to our season.”
The team has been practicing for four weeks and has been setting goals for the season, according to Monahan.
“The guys are excited, they are ready to compete against other teams instead of each other,” Monahan said.
Outside hitter Jake Carr is also excited for the season and has goals for himself and for the team, according to Carr.
“This year, being a senior, I am going to be expected to step up and lead the team with Lebryk,” Carr said.”That’s something I’ve never been particularly very strong at [because] I’ve always just played.”
At the beginning of the season Monahan and the team had a meeting discussing the team’s goals, according to junior Alex Alwan.
“The goal is to do as well as or do better than fourth in state from last year,” Alwan said.
Monahan believes if the team works hard during games and practices, it is an achievable goal. The men’s volleyball team is in for an exciting season, according to Monahan.
“Come out and watch them, they’re a fun group of guys to watch, and they are a state level team,” Monahan said. “They will be exciting to watch as the season goes on.”