The Evanston Township High School boys volleyball team’s season has not gone according to plan so far. But there is still time to right the ship.
The Wildkits beat Waukegan on April 27, 25-22 and, 25-23. “Against Waukegan, we did a decent job of just playing our game and getting a good win. It was a little closer than we would’ve liked, and I’m sure we had more errors than we would’ve liked, but a win is a win, and it really helps that they are a conference rival,” said senior Connor Buth.
In a match on April 29, the Kits lost to New Trier 25-14 and 25-14. In the first set, the Kits held an early 2-1 lead, but they fell behind quickly 3-2 and never regained the lead. From there, the Trevians were on cruise control, outscoring the Kits 22-12 the rest of the way to take the set.
In the second set, New Trier took a 9-5 lead but the Kits responded with three straight points to get within one at 9-8. But once again, New Trier took control with a 6-0 run to increase their lead to 15-8 and they did not look back, winning the set, 25-14.
“The New Trier match did not go as we thought it would. We felt we had a chance to beat them after hearing that they lost to Glenbrook South the night before,” said team captain Charles Hopson. “We came into the first match filled with energy and ready to play them. We played well against them in the first match. In the second match [we] made mistakes and the energy that was on the court and the bench [during the first set] was gone and things just fell apart.”
On May 4, the Kits Lost to Niles West, 25-21 and 28-26. In the first set, the Kits led for much of the set, with their largest lead at 14-10. At that point, the Wolves went on a 5-1 run to tie the set at 15. The Kits were unable to respond and were outscored 10-6 to end the set.
In the second set, the Kits jumped out to a 13-9 lead, but again failed to hold on to it as Niles West went on a 7-3 run to tie the set at 16. Then Niles West seemed to take control and led by as many as 4, 23-19, late in the set. But the Kits did not give up. They tied the set at 25, but were unable to regain the lead as Niles West outscored the Kits 3-1 down the stretch to win the set, 28-26.
On May 6, the Kits beat Glenbrook South, losing the first set (20-25) and winning the next two (26-24, 25-23). On May 7-8, in the Glenbrook North Invite, the Kits went 2-3 beating Libertyville (25-22, 25-23) and Lake Zurich (25-23, 25-23), but losing to GBN (25-18, 21-25, 17-25), Notre Dame (24-26, 25-22, 22-25) and Stevenson (18-25, 25-23, 22-25).
The Kits’ remaining schedule includes a match tonight against Maine South, and then on May 13 at Waukegan. The Evanston Spring Fling tournament is on May 15, and on May 18 the Kits have a rematch at New Trier. The season finale is on May 20 at Niles West. Regionals begin May 25 where the Kits will be the ninth seed.
“I think everyone on the team really is anticipating our rematch against New Trier,” said senior Jack Folz. “We lost to them in our own gym in an almost embarrassing fashion and would like to return the favor. They are a very good team, full of experienced players, but I believe that overall we have much better athletes and if we play a great game, we have all the tools to beat them.”
After the GBN Invite, the Kits record stood at 8-17 overall. Given their record, Buth says a .500 record is a realistic goal for the team to reach.
“Honestly, I’d say a realistic goal for us would be to get above .500,” said Buth. “It has been an interesting year for all of us, with a bunch of guys switching around positions and getting comfortable playing with each other. Every player on the team has a lot of potential and we need to use that potential to better the team as a whole in any way we can.”
More specifically, “The biggest thing we need to work on is eliminating unforced errors,” said Buth. “Whether it’s serving out or hitting a ball into the net, those unforced errors really add up and end up hurting us in the end.”
If the Kits can reach .500 and get on a roll to end the season, there is no telling where they may end up come playoff time.