AURORA – For three straight years, the St. Charles North boys volleyball team finished second in the West Aurora Invite. Now, with an experienced team comprised mostly of seniors, the North Stars are through being runners-up.
The North Stars won the tournament Saturday, defeating four schools along the way, including Schaumburg in a three-game championship match.
North dropped the first game against Schaumburg, 27-25, but the North Stars handled the Saxons in the second and third games, winning 25-18 and 25-11, respectively. The championship-winning game was perhaps North's most dominant performance of the day, as the North Stars had point streaks of seven and five in the final game, closing out the Saxons on a 14-6 run.
“The first game, they were coming off a big win in the semifinals and we were cold. We weren’t really ready to play, I thought, we were a little shaky,” senior Jonathan Orech said. “But in the second game we really came out. We really just opened up. We were ready to play.”
Apart from all the experience and leadership up and down the North Stars roster, coach Todd Weimer and his players attributed some part of the success to the team’s constant energy. Though players were up at 6 a.m. and their first match started at 8:30 a.m., there was no shortness of emotion or volume from North.
Players cheered loudly after every point, teammates jumped off the bench, and an orchestrated floor slap occurred after every ace. The North Stars said they thrived on their energy, and it was hard to argue when loud screams after points only seemed to push momentum more in their favor.
“It’s huge because that’s like the seventh man,” Weimer said. “You just get the momentum, you get the excitement and energy and everyone feeds off each other. That’s crucial. We talk about that, and they’re doing a nice job of executing that.”
“We’re always a loud team, and it helps,” Orech said. “We feed off our energy.”
When the tournament came to a close – after the handshakes but before the championship plaque was awarded – Weimer jumped into his players shouting, “Yeah, baby!” It’s easy to see where the team gets its energy.
En route to the championship, St. Charles North defeated Joliet Central, St. Viator and Glenbard North before topping Schaumburg in the championship match. The first game against Schaumburg was the only game the North Stars (5-0) lost all day.
Orech (33 kills, 28 digs), Kevin Beach (22 kills, 28 digs), Pat Misiewicz (76 assists) and Ryan Dal Degan (55 digs) powered the North Stars to the title.
Also participating Saturday was Geneva. The Vikings took the first two games they played, beating Oswego East, 25-16, 25-8. But the Vikings didn’t resemble the loud and proud North Stars for long. They weren’t as vocal, and coach K.C. Johnsen said he was hoping the Vikings would turn up the volume on what he called a slow start as the day progressed.
Geneva dropped its next two matches to Glenbard North and St. Viator, each in two games. The Vikings scored another win by taking two of three games against Bolingbrook in their final match of the day.
But, in the end, the spotlight and trophy belonged to St. Charles North. For the team that kept coming up short in years past, it was clear that this emotion didn’t require practice.
“It’s really good to finally finish one off,” Orech said.