Boys Volleyball: Surging Larkin hopes for postseason run
By Joel Reuter For Sun-Times Media May 20, 2012 7:00PM
Larkin's Max Colima (3) defends against Elgin's Jorge Delgado. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 1, 2012 12:24PM
After dropping its first 11 matches of the season and opening with a 1-14 record, things looked bleak for the Larkin boys volleyball team.
However, a victory over crosstown rival Elgin on April 10 marked a turning point, as they have closed the regular season going 8-3 and now look like a team that could make some noise in the postseason.
“We were missing some starters toward the beginning of the season and we’ve had a few injuries, but they are a very coachable team and we’ve made gradual improvement as the season has gone one,” said Larkin coach Henry Graack.
One of those players who missed time with injury was senior middle hitter T.J. Weaver, who led the team by far this season with 92 blocks, to go along with 112 kills, which was good for second on the team.
“(T.J.) is the most improved player in this group since freshman year,” said Graack. “Back then he couldn’t jump very high but he had excellent timing. During the off-season before his junior year he started attending my workout program and since then he’s gotten quicker, he jumps higher, and he hits harder.”
Weaver was an All-Upstate Eight Conference selection, joining senior outside hitter Dylan Martinez, who was a unanimous choice.
Martinez led the team with 104 digs, but more impressively had a team-high 168 kills despite standing just 5-9, and his coach was quick to praise his work ethic as the reason for his success.
“Dylan is a born leader by work ethic alone,” said Graack. “He carries a chip on his shoulder for being undersized, and he takes losing harder than anyone I have ever coached. That attitude has helped Dylan become the person and the volleyball player that he is today.”
Those two are joined up front by senior Aldair Cortes (83 kills, 65 blocks) and junior Trey Ridings (93 kills, 68 digs), while senior Tim Yang (289 assists) and junior Max Rydell (217 assists) lead the setting game.
Seniors Santana Jimenez (56 digs), Max Colima (52 digs, 13 aces), Randy Berkley (15 digs), Andres Garnicia and junior Riley Sadlon (65 kills, 29 blocks) round out the roster.
While an 8-3 finish to the season that included a victory over eventual conference champion St. Charles East is nice, the Royals have their eyes on a regional title. Their postseason slate will begin with a matchup against rival Elgin on Monday night, a team they have already beaten twice this year. Game time is 6:30 Monday at Larkin.
“The season had a rough start and mentally it was tough on our team to lose so many games, but eventually I knew it would click if we kept working hard and it did,” said Graack. “This team has overcome a number of issues this season and they should be proud of themselves regardless of how we finish.”