The Trevians were due.
The New Trier boys volleyball team had a rough go to start the 2021 season, battling a two-week COVID-related quarantine and then a powerhouse early schedule to begin 0-4.
The below-.500 record is unusual for a program that has made six consecutive trips down state, so it took out its frustrations on host Evanston Monday, May 3.
“This team has a lot of potential,” Trevs coach Sue Ellen Haak said. “We were in quarantine for two weeks after tryouts, so we are short on practice. But these guys have potential. They are workhorses. I have total confidence that it’s onward and upward from here.”
New Trier brought home a state trophy three out of the past four years, finishing third in 2019, and were ready to bring back an experienced unit for a run at a 2020 state title.
But those hopes were dashed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which cut short the 2019-20 school year and spring athletics.
With a long layoff made longer by its quarantine, New Trier is still shaking off the rust with five seniors and 11 juniors, none of whom have commingled on a varsity court.
Evanston took advantage of the inexperience for the first two-thirds of the first set.
The ‘Kits cruised to a 17-11 lead before New Trier’s Nathan Zoloto took the ball behind the serving line. With back-to-back aces, Zoloto put his team on the comeback trail.
Zoloto said serving runs are a big momentum boost — and so is an energized bench.
“Our bench is huge right now,” he said. “Every point, they are getting up and being loud. It makes a big difference.”
From there, the Trevs nibbled at the ‘Kits lead until an Andrew Chamberlain kill gave New Trier its first lead of the set at 22-21.
Chamberlain had another of his team-high 9 kills as the Trevs pulled out the 26-24 victory.
The momentum pushed open the floodgates. While Evanston had an early 6-2 lead in the second set, it was short-lived. New Trier went on a 12-2 run to take a significant lead that was only extended thereafter.
The key, according to both Haak and Zoloto, was hanging on to the ball after earning a sideout.
“I thought our servers really settled in,” Haak said. “That was actually one of our goals today, to serve for multiple points, not just one and done. We started to do that.”
The second set featured another serving run by Zoloto, who finished with 4 aces, and one from Trevs setter Stefan Gjaja, who added 25 assists.
New Trier finished the second set in short order with a 25-14 victory to complete the Central Suburban South sweep.
Max Mazur added 8 kills and Scott Hopkins 9 digs in the Trevs’ first win of the young season.
“We had a rough start,” Zoloto said. “But we’ve hustled and played hard. We took (Glenbrook North) to three sets. This is a big win for us. I’m hoping it will be an upward trend and a turning point for the team.”