Last season, the Evanston boy’s volleyball team finished tied for the Central Suburban League South title and advanced to Sectionals. This year, the Wildkits have had their share of ups and downs.
“This season has been educational and frustrating for our whole team. We set lofty goals that have been obscured by mental/focus issues,” said head coach Mike McDermott.
In the Downer’s Grove South Tournament on May 1 and 2, the Wildkits lost to New Trier (25-23 and 25-12). On May 2, they beat Niles West (losing the first match 20-25 and winning the next two 25-22 and 25-23) and then lost to Barrington (winning the first game 25-19, and losing the next two 19-25 and 18-25).
“Obviously our team is disappointed because we set very high expectations for ourselves before the season and have not been able to meet those,” said senior John Prout.
In the Prospect Tournament on May 9, the Kits beat Hoffman Estates (25-20, 26-24) and lost to St. Charles (32-30, 21-25 and 10-15). On May 13, the Kits fell to Glenbrook South (16-25, 22-25) and on May 14 lost to Maine South (15-25 and 14-25).
Given the Kits struggles this season, McDermott maintains a positive outlook heading into Regionals, saying, “I feel as though our players are starting to refocus, and will be playing their best volleyball over the next two weeks.”
On May 15-16, the Kits participated in the Evanston Spring Fling Tournament and finished third, beating Notre Dame (25-21, 27-29, 15-11) and IMSA (25-5, 25-16), but lost to Zion-Benton (25-21, 16-25, 15-7) and Loyola (25-18, 25-18).
Like McDermott, Prout feels the team’s struggles have been a result of unfocused play, saying, “Our team has a tendency to lose focus at key stretches, which leads to our opponents rattling off five or six unanswered points, ” said Prout. “Even though we did not win the[Spring Fling] tournament, we did improve our focus and communication on the court. There were times when we rattled off four or five unanswered points, and it showed how good we can be when we are all focused and on the same page.”
On May 18 and 19, the Kits lost to Maine South and New Trier and as of May 21 their record stood at 13-20.
“This is a very talented team that just needs to find some leadership and positive energy on the court. When that happens, they can play with any team in our Sectional. At that point, I will like our chances,” said McDermott.
” I would categorize our season as frustrating. We know we have lots of talent, but we have not been able to translate our talent into wins. It is frustrating to lose to teams who are less talented but have more focus and energy than we do,” said Prout.
The Kits will be the fourth seed in the Maine South Sectional. Regionals are hosted at Evanston on May 25- 27, with the Kits playing Von Steuben. If they win, they will play the winner of Prospect and Maine West. Should the Kits advance, Sectionals begin on May 29 at Maine South. If they win that match, the State tournament is on June 5-6 at Hoffman Estates High School.
If the Kits are able to stay focused, look for them to advance to Sectionals once again.