New Trier’s boys volleyball team sought to win its 15th straight match when it faced St. Rita in a state quarterfinal at Hoffman Estates High School June 1.
The Trevians won their biggest point at…15-15, yes, 15-15, in the second set. NT senior middle Joe D’Attomo pounded a kill, starting a 5-0 run, and the program making its fifth straight Elite Eight appearance coasted from there to complete a 25-16, 25-18 victory.
“That point was an important one,” said NT coach Sue Ellen Haak, who had called a timeout after St. Rita (21-19) won three consecutive points to cut the Trevians’ second-set lead to 15-14.
New Trier (34-6) battles Lincoln-Way East (37-3) in a state semifinal June 2, beginning at approximately 11 a.m. LW-E defeated NT in three sets April 7.
“That loss is at the front of our minds,” said D’Attomo, who finished with a team-high six kills in the quarterfinal. “Until the last week, no team had seen us at full strength.”
Injuries and illnesses forced Haak to trot out numerous lineups throughout the spring — not a bad thing in her mind.
“We’re difficult to scout because of all the different players we used,” the coach of the 2016 state runner-up team said. “That should be an advantage for us in our final two matches [June 2].”
NT sophomore outside hitter Colin Heath (4 digs) struck for five kills against St. Rita’s Mustangs, and 6-foot-4 junior OH Jay Saravis — the team’s leader in kills this spring, with 165 — hammered four.
Saravis slapped a clever, sharply angled kill near a Mustangs front-row spiker late in the first set, giving NT a 21-14 advantage.
“Our quiet assassin,” D’Attomo said of Saravis.
“Jay is humble, always poised and laser-focused,” Haak added.
Senior OH Tennessee Fulks paced the team in digs with six, and senior setter Tergel Gandelger lofted 19 assists.
The entire team couldn’t wait to return to the court for the second semi June 2.
“In bed by 9 [p.m.],” the Loyola University-bound D’Attomo shouted at the post-quarterfinal press conference.
The dominant middle’s spirited comment made Haak smile.
“This team is a joy to be around,” the coach said. “The players have good energy. Nobody complains. It’s been a pleasure coaching all of them.”