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Six-foot-6 Maalik Walker will make Minooka a force to reckon with this season. | Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media
Phil Brozynski's boys volleyball rankings
(Last year’s record in parenthesis)
1. Brother Rice (27-13)
Who needs a veteran setter? The Crusaders don’t, boasting hitters like 6-8 Ryan Paull, 6-4 junior Mitch Weiler and 6-5 junior Kevin Myren, who are back from last year’s state quarterfinalist. But somebody has to get the ball to the net, and juniors Jim Dwyer and Dan Hayes are likely candidates.
2. Minooka (37-4)
Janel Grzetich’s Indians are strong up front, in the back and just about everywhere else. Six-foot-6 Maalik Walker and 6-9 junior Justin Toth will roam the middle, Adam Holstine and David Hynek will handle the back row, Phil Hannon sets and 6-5 Matt Svetlecich will hit from the outside.
3. Lincoln-Way North (32-5)
Four starters are back from a team that was upset by Brother Rice 25-18, 20-25, 25-19 in the sectional semifinals, including libero Zach Blasgen, 6-3 middle hitter Haakon Skrodal and junior outsides Jake Walenga and Brad McFarland. Matt Burke and Austin Faller will set.
4. Lincoln-Way East (35-4)
The Griffins are young, but very good. Libero Josh Phalen, setter Austin Royer (762 assists, 32 aces last season) and outsides Nate Van Dellen and Ryan Vorderer (126 kills, 62 blocks) — all juniors — were unbeaten during club season with Ultimate 17 Gold.
5. Glenbard East (32-7)
With 6-2 outside Jake Hamaker, back from an ACL injury, and 6-5 Joey Farrell, a Penn State recruit, ready to build on an impressive junior campaign, the Rams should be the team to beat in the DuPage Valley. Six-foot-4 Zach Greene and sophomore setter Ben Carpio also return.
6. Stevenson (31-5)
Defensive whizzes Brian Dubinsky and Kevin Xu, 6-3 setter Jonah May and 6-4 outsides Brad Tiller and Aaron Zalewski followed up a great spring by finishing fifth at nationals with Adversity 17 Purple. May (733 assists, 59 kills, 21 aces) is headed to Princeton in the fall.
7. St. Francis (25-12)
Five starters are back from the team that lost to WW South in a regional title game, including 6-7 junior Jeff Jendryk, one of the best junior middles in the country. Also back are 6-4 rightside Matt Metzler, 6-1 outside Patrick Flood, setter Robert Smith and libero Josef Santos.
8. Wheaton Warrenville South (42-0)
You didn’t think the Tigers would just go away, did you? Despite losing 12 seniors from last year’s national champion squad, WW South still has some weapons in 6-4 Greg Vlassov, 6-6 junior Jared Wilcox, 6-4 freshman Zach Meyer, 6-5 sophomore Logan Wiese and setter Richie Pianek.
9. Barrington (34-7)
Three starters return from last year’s third-place finisher: 6-4 outside Charlie Spry (180 kills), 6-6 Peter Van Fossan (122 kills, 41 blocks) and 6-2 outside Kevin Eiring (76 kills). Coach Rob Ridenour calls 6-4 junior middle Colin Castagna “the best athlete in the gym.”
10. New Trier (22-13)
The Trevians welcome back 6-1 setter Matt Wascher and 6-6 outside hitter Mike Gajos, both all-conference picks. Toss in 6-2 veteran outside Carlos Zambrano, libero Harley Friesen and a group of very tall junior sluggers ranging from 6-5 to 6-7 and you can see why coach Sue Ellen Haak is smiling.
Others: Benet (28-9), Buffalo Grove (25-13), Glenbard West (30-6), Glenbrook North (38-4), Marist (23-14), Naperville North (25-11), Providence (20-17), Sandburg (24-12), Vernon Hills (32-5), Waubonsie Valley (26-9).