IN THE SPOTLIGHT
The loudest guy on the volleyball court stood a few feet from it, following a recent match.
Joe D’Attomo’s voice?
Hoarse, of course.
“I like to provide energy any way I can, for sure,” rasped one of New Trier’s 6-foot-6 senior middle hitters (the other is James Snyder) after a pool-play match at the two-day Warren Tournament in Gurnee on April 6. “I love to amp up my teammates with my voice.”
His play near the net — a clamorous kill here, or a raucous block there — elicits a similar result. The 205-pound D’Attomo capped NT’s 25-12, 25-23 defeat of Riverside-Brookfield with a pair of resounding kills in a Warren Tourney opener.
The Trevians remained jacked for the rest of the night, routing Zion-Benton 25-11, 25-13 in their next pool-play contest.
“Big presence, big force in the middle for us,” Snyder said of D’Attomo after New Trier downed host Stevenson 25-13, 25-21 for its first victory of the spring on April 3. “Fiery guy; he fires all of us up. His reaction after kills … loud and big and emotional. Joe never hesitates to show his excitement in between points.”
A third-year varsity spiker and second-year club member of Vernon Hills-based Adversity, D’Attomo played for state runner-up New Trier as a sophomore and pounded a team-high-tying eight kills in NT’s three-set loss to Lincoln-Way East in a state quarterfinal last spring.
Coach Sue Ellen Haak’s NT squads went a combined 70-11 in the 2016 and ’17 seasons.
“Joe has a great story as an athlete in our program,” Haak said. “He has developed into a wonderful leader since his sophomore year. Two years ago he was all about his kills. Now? He understands it’s more about the team, and he continues to be an aggressive competitor, a baller, a total gamer. Look at him after points, big points. We love how demonstrative he gets.
“I love his attitude.”
The Loyola University men’s volleyball coaches admire his game. D’Attomo, a Wilmette resident, committed to the Ramblers — NCAA Division I champions in 2014 and ’15 and currently ranked No. 8 in the country — after receiving a scholarship offer last spring.
NT’s Trevians battled Lincoln-Way East’s Griffins on the floor of D’Attomo’s future volleyball home in Rogers Park last month. NT lost that clash between perennial state powers at the Gentile Center, where LU’s talk-of-the-country men’s basketball team competed in its Final Four season of 2017-18.
“People at school came up to me, throughout the NCAA Tournament, and asked, ‘Are you going to be friends with Loyola’s basketball players next year?’ ” said D’Attomo, a center in basketball before deciding to go all in with volleyball before the start of his sophomore year. “How great was that March Madness run by the Ramblers?
“We got to play on Loyola’s campus on the day [March 24] Loyola beat Kansas State to advance to the Final Four.”
D’Attomo paced NT’s Elite Eight team in blocks (58) last spring and popped for five blocks, to go with his 28 kills, as Haak’s boys (5-3 overall, after an 0-2 start) finished third at the Warren Tournament last weekend.
NT topped Deerfield 25-19, 25-23 in the match for the bronze on April 7.
“Joe is faster, stronger and bigger this year, and he’s more consistent, for sure,” said Snyder, who finished with 15 kills, three aces and a team-best 12 blocks last weekend. “He hits hard. Plus he’s quick, so quick. Joe is good at seeing the block [defensive schemes] and hitting around them. I get him a couple of times in practice; be sure to include that, OK? We’re a couple of guys who love to compete, love to win, even in practice. But it’s special, being able to go against a highly competitive Division I player like Joe.”
D’Attomo’s mother, Betsy Weil, was a 5-10 middle hitter in her competitive volleyball days in Iowa.
“The greatest woman I know,” says D’Attomo, who is interested in studying sports management and would love nothing more than to work in either the front office of the Chicago Bulls or the Chicago Cubs someday. “My mom pushes me every day, encourages me, supports me. She’s right, always right.
“And my mom makes the greatest chocolate chip cookies.”
Her son makes a mean plate of loaded quesadillas — when he isn’t wolfing down his favorite fare, pizza.
Among D’Attomo’s other rousing pastimes are animated games of spikeball with friends on the beach and hanging out with his peppy puppy, Lucy.
“Lucy,” he says, “is very energetic, always energetic. Like me.”
One loves to go for walks, take long naps and slurp water from a bowl.
The other loves to bark.
Notable: New Trier’s boys volleyball team won four of five matches en route to a third-place showing at the Warren Tournament April 6-7. Junior outside hitter Jay Saravis led NT in kills (35) and aces (10), and junior setter Ben Wiegand lofted 115 assists. Trevians senior outside hitter Tennessee Fulks finished with 28 kills, eight blocks and four aces on Illinois soil; sophomore outside hitter Peter Brown struck 14 kills and had three blocks. … NT produced a 9-0 run in the first set of its 25-13, 25-21 defeat of host Stevenson on April 3. A block by senior middle James Snyder (5 kills, 2 blocks) later put the visitors up 21-9 in Lincolnshire. NT fell behind 5-1 in the second set and used an 8-2 spurt to take a 20-14 lead. Snyder, Brown and Saravis paced the attack with five kills apiece. Trevians senior libero Sam Gillman amassed 15 service points. … New Trier senior and Northwestern University football recruit Brian Kaiser, a varsity volleyball player in his sophomore and junior seasons, underwent season-ending shoulder surgery last month. A 6-foot-7 tight end on the gridiron, Kaiser ranked third among Trevians in kills (140) and second in blocks (50) for last year’s Elite Eight volleyball team.