Glenbard West’s one-game-at-a-time approach pays off at Hinsdale Central

 

One last ride. That’s all Glenbard West’s JT Ardell is looking for.
 
“I want to win another (state title),” said the 6-foot-8 middle hitter, who has been part of the last two state championship teams at the Glen Ellyn school. “I’ll be disappointed if we don’t. One last ride. I really do want to win another.”
 
But after Saturday’s hiccup in the semifinals at the Northside Classic, when the Hilltoppers were ambushed by shorthanded Barrington in straight sets, Glenbard West is taking it one game at a time.
 
“We needed to refocus,” Ardell said. “Last weekend was an eye-opener. We need to take it one game at a time. Any game can be your last. So we decided to come here (at Hinsdale Central on Tuesday) and take care of business.”
 
Six-foot-2 sophomore Ben Harrington and 6-1 outside hitter Ryan Swartz each had 7 kills, 6-6 outside hitter Stone Metz added 6 kills and 7 digs and Henry Curtis handed out 27 assists to go along with 2 kills and a block as Glenbard West defeated the Red Devils 25-21, 25-19.
 
Glenbard West coach Christine Giunta-Mayer certainly liked how her team, which improved to 28-3 and 5-0 in the West Suburban Silver, took care of business Tuesday.
 
“I told the guys that they were coming off a great game against Hersey (Saturday in the third-place game at the Northside Classic),” she said. ”You showed me what you can do. Our second-line defense was great today and they had a lot of digs. They gave us a lot of second chances.  

 

“We made some smart decisions and it was a clean game,” she added. “That’s what we were looking for.”

Hinsdale Central coach Stephanie Kaegebein’s team was anything but clean Tuesday. A hitting error by the Red Devils closed out the Game 1 loss, and after closing to within 20-17 in Game 2, a service error and hitting error all but sealed their fate.

“It’s rough,” Kaegebein said. “The errors are coming at the wrong time. We’re right there and then errors like that put a wrench in your stomach.
 
“(Six-foot-2 rightside hitter/setter John) Zolpe played out of his mind tonight and our back-row defense and serve-receive were solid,” she added. “But our offense was a bit off.”
 
Zolpe’s kill and two miscues by the Hilltoppers allowed the hosts to fight off three set points in Game 1. But an errant kill attempt against an open court that sailed well beyond the end line put an end to the Hinsdale Central rally.
 
In Game 2, Hinsdale Central (18-10, 3-2) chipped away at an 18-13 deficit to get within 20-17, but again the Red Devils’ miscues gave Glenbard West some breathing room. Junior Anthony Marcucci’s kill off the tape got the hosts within 23-19, but they could get no closer.
 
Kaegebein said that the Red Devils have some work to do to get ready for the state tournament in two weeks.

“We have one practice this week and next week is full of practices, which I’m extremely excited about,” she said. “We definitely need to work on our blocking, tooling off the block and utilizing the right shot.”

Giunta-Mayer also has a short list of things for her club to work on prior to the tournament, including not looking beyond the game on that day’s schedule.

“I’ll be honest … we’re not even going there anymore (talking about a four-peat),” Giunta-Mayer said. “They young kids don’t even know how to do it (win one state title). There are things we can fix that are easily fixable. Let’s focus on that.

“If you look forward, you’re dead,” she said.

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