Winnetka, Sports

Wolff and company attack Titans after first set

New Trier’s three-set victory sets up rivalry battle in sectional championship on Tuesday

It was deja vu, but not all over again.

New Trier and Glenbrook South met again in an IHSA boys volleyball sectional semifinal Saturday afternoon. Unlike last year, when the Titans won in straight sets, the Trevians had a year’s worth of motivation built up.

“It’s all about preparation. We’ve been thinking about this game ever since last year,” New Trier senior David Wolff said. “Our whole team was super focused on this game. … We were just super prepared for this game.”

Wolff’s words rang true in No. 2 New Trier’s play in the second and third sets, as they came from behind to topple the sectional’s No. 2 seeded Titans 22-25, 25-21, 25-22 on May 25 at Vernon Hills High School.

Wolff was a man on a mission, finishing with a match-high 21 kills, many of which were floor-shaking strikes that pumped up his teammates and the Trevians’ fans.

But after a first-set loss, in which Wolff racked up nine kills, the Trevians needed more than their offensive star to pull themselves up.

In volleyball, it all starts with a serve, both literally and figuratively. New Trier coach Sue Ellen Haak said her team’s more aggressive and effective service changed the gameplay, keeping Glenbrook South out of its fluid offense and allowing the Trevians defense to better respond.

“We served tougher,” Haak said about the change after Set 1. “They were just running constant middles (in the first set), passing really easy. Any good team can score when you do that, so our guys stepped up and served so much tougher and that increased our blocking. Our blockers were out of their minds.”

New Trier middles Franklin Zoloto and Hudson Nachtwey were especially formidable at the net, each recording at least four blocks apiece. Nachtwey also had a couple showstopping kills.

Haak also credited her back-row specialists, such as libero Griffin Firmin and senior Tyler Chung, who regularly kept balls alive to restart their team’s offense.

After falling in the first set, New Trier looked more alive in Set 2, but Glenbrook South didn’t back down. The teams went back and forth for most of the game.

The Trevians finally got some separation at 15-12 and 19-15. The Titans closed to 21-20 but New Trier responded, and Shane Sullivan finished off the win with an ace.

The third set was similar, a back-and-forth affair with New Trier creating some separation in the middle, going up 14-11.

Wolff notched seven kills in the final set, including a back-row attack to put his team in victory formation up 24-20.

The win was New Trier’s ninth straight — the previous six came in straight sets. The streak has Wolff and company feeling pretty good, confidence that could prove useful for their next match: a sectional championship tilt with rival Loyola Academy (36-2) on Tuesday, March 28, in Vernon Hills.

“We’re on a win streak right now. I don’t think any team in the state can stop us,” Wolff said. “We’ve had our momentum building for the last eight or nine games. This was the first set we lost in seven games. I think that really worked us up and got us going for the second and third (sets).”

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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