Oswego East huddles during a timeout in the first game of Thursday’s match.
Minooka’s boys volleyball team stood tall as the Indians defeated host Oswego East 25-8, 25-16 in a Southwest Prairie Conference match on Thursday.
The Indians, led by 6’9” middle Justin Toth, 6’6” middle Maalik Walker and 6’4” outside hitter Richard Bishop, towered over the Wolves as they cruised to a two game victory.
“It’s hard, you’re looking at college teams that are that tall. I was telling my guys to tool the block, because I knew they could block us straight on,” said Oswego East coach Jim Mueller.
“We were worried about Walker, he’s pretty good. He’s just so tall, he’s way over us. If he gets a good set, there’s nothing you can do.”
Walker led the Indians with six blocks and added four kills and an ace. Bishop was the Indians’ kill-leader with eight, while outside hitter Nicholas Vertin added six kills. Toth had two blocks and one kill.
Setter Philip Hannon led Minooka (15-2, 6-0) with 19 assists and five digs. Indians coach Janel Grzetich credited the junior for consistently setting up big shots for his teammates.
“Our setter was making some very smart decisions in terms of where we were in the rotations, where the defense was moving and when to set them,” said Grzetich. “Once he made passes, his teammates could see the open areas and they were hitting. They did a very good job of that.”
Minooka set the the tone early, shooting out to a quick 9-0 lead in the first game. Bishop had five kills and outside hitter Ryan Bauer had three aces as the Indians cruised to a 25-8 win.
The Wolves’ play was much improved to start the second game. Setter Sam Izzo’s ace gave Oswego East (3-12-1, 0-6) an early 5-1 lead. However seven points later, a block by Walker gave the Indians their first lead of the game, 7-6, and Minooka never looked back, winning the second game 25-16.
“We were out of sorts in the first game, and we’re a lot better than that. I give them a lot of credit, they hustled every ball, they hit everything down, they just outplayed us that first game,” said Mueller. “The second game, I was happy with our effort. I told the guys, ‘play loose, have fun and just do your job,’ and we did that.”
Despite his team’s slow start to the season, Mueller believes the Wolves are not far away from competing with the conference’s best teams.
“We have to improve on our passing,” said Mueller. “As soon as we get our passing down, we can compete with anybody. I believe that.”
I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.
I went a little photo crazy at tonight’s game. Here’s an artsy shot of Oswego East’s fearsome-looking Wolves logo.