“We’ve always looked up to Wheaton Warrenville South,” St. Charles North’s Pepperdine-bound 6-foot-8 outside hitter Tommy Koppang said. “They’ve always had a strong program.”
Now, St. Charles North is looking for a little respect of its own.
Koppang blistered 9 kills, 6-3 setter/rightside hitter David Beach had 8 kills and 13 assists, and 6-1 outside hitter Brendan Dal Degan added 3 kills and a critical block at 25-25 in the second set as the North Stars defeated the Tigers 25-17, 27-25 Wednesday in Wheaton.
“We’ve lost to them at the varsity level the past two years,” Koppang said. “This is a big win for us.”
St. Charles North (1-0) made short work of the first set, building a 14-4 lead and weathering a late WW South (0-2) comeback bid.
The second game was a different story, however.
The Tigers rallied from an 15-11 deficit to grab their first lead of the match at 20-19 on a quick hitter over the middle by 6-2 junior Declin Ermer. WW South maintained a 1-point advantage at 21-20 on a block by 6-2 junior Owen Struebing.
Tied at 22-22, St. Charles North scored the next 2 points on a Kyle Donlevy block and a Koppang kill. WW South countered with a kill by Zeo Meyer, who moved to the outside following a Tiger timeout, and a North Star net violation.
A Dal Degan roller from the back row gave St. Charles North a brief 25-24 advantage, but WW South’s Chase Keating answered with a kill to tie the set at 25-25.
That’s when Dal Degan struck again. He got the better of Meyer on the next play, blocking Meyer’s kill attempt from the right side to give the visitors a 26-25 lead.
“I’ve been working on my blocking since tryouts,” Dal Degan said. “That’s one of things I’ve improved on, especially since last year. I just went up and tried to force the ball back down.”
Koppang ended a long rally at 26-25 with an emphatic kill, completing a program sweep (Freshman “A”, Freshman “B” and junior varsity) for the North Stars.
“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to play against Bill’s (WW South coach Schreier) team,” St. Charles North coach Todd Weimer said. “I respect him a lot and what he’s done for the program. To come in here and sweep every level, that’s a huge confidence builder for us.
“That’s kind of telling about what we do in summer camp, some of our off-season stuff and what we’re doing in practice,” he added. “But we’re going back practice tomorrow. We have work to do. We saw a lot of things that need improvement.”
WW South got 8 kills and 6 dogs from Keating, 7 kills, and ace and 6 digs from 6-6 sophomore Josh Gottlieb, 5 digs from Luke Sheehan and 19 assists, 4 kills and a block from Meyer.
“We’re making some poor decisions all-around as far as our execution,” Schreier said. “Our passing did not get off to a great start and we had some untimely serves that really hurt. I thought we did a much better job after we got into a rhythm, and did a much better job on out-of-system balls.”
Schreier is preaching patience with his young team, which starts three sophomores and two juniors.
“It’s going to take time with this many new faces,” he said. “The athleticism is there. The height is there. Now it’s just a matter of putting it all together. Just 48 hours (after Monday’s loss) is a huge difference. Even from the first set to the second set tonight there was a huge difference. They’re starting to get comfortable.”