Boys volleyball rallies for Coach Pyritz’s last year

Harper Hill, Reporter

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After ending the season last year in a disappointing loss to Riverside Brookfield in the sectional semifinals, the boys volleyball team has been working hard at a second chance to make a deep playoff run.

Along with their hard work, the boys are hoping to enjoy their last season with varsity coach Joann Pyritz. Pyritz plans to retire from LT at the end of the year, after a strong 24 years of coaching the varsity boys volleyball team.

“Coach P has left an enormous impact on LT volleyball over her coaching years,” Lucas Huneryager ‘18 said. “Our main goal as a team is to make her last year a memorable one regardless of our performance on the court.”

The boys’ record last year was 25-13, and the team took fourth in the Downers Grove South Invite and sixth in the Lincoln Way East Invite. However, the team lost many key players from last year, including the starting center and starting libero, leaving them with gaps at the beginning of the season this year.

“I wanted my last season at LT to be a season that certainly showed more wins than losses,” Pyritz said.  “But I think more importantly, I want to wring true to my whole philosophy which is that the season isn’t based on wins and losses. It’s more about how you learn to play together throughout the season. Our goal this whole season has been to develop consistency in all positions, but specifically in positions where we graduated key players.”

Jimmy O’Connor ‘19 and Joe Linder ‘19 have stepped in to share the setting duties, replacing Caleb Moskowitz ‘17. Huneryager and Spiro Kass ‘18 have filled the libero role, replacing Adam Zimmerman ‘19.

“Because we have some inexperience in our roster, and trying to fill some gaps from last year, we are currently inconsistent in some positions, and we need to develop that consistency before the end of May,” Pyritz said.

Along with the loss of several key players last year, the team’s current starting middle hitter Matt Malloy ‘18 was out with a knee injury at the beginning of the season, which further impacted the strengths of the team’s lineup, Pyritz said.

“I feel like by the end of the season, we’ll be a different team,” Pyritz said. “I feel like it’s just going to take more of the season for us to become who we really are. I think once our lineup gets back on track with Matt back, we will have some pieces of the puzzle that will work better for us.”

The boys struggled with closing matches in games earlier in the season, Pyritz said. With a record of more losses than wins, they have been focusing on their competitive manner as well as closing skills, in order to work their way back up to the top.

“The best teams in the state are so dangerous because they are unpredictable due to their ability to use all their hitters at any time,” Huneryager said. “Being able to push the ball to any hitter at any point in a rally is a large key to success. With a healthy lineup going into playoffs, my hopes would be high. I have confidence that we could make a strong playoff run and surprise many along the way.”

The team is now preparing for sectional semifinals on May 25. If they advance through this competition, they will compete at sectional finals on May 29 and depending on the results, continue on to IHSA state finals on June 1-2.

“We have displayed efforts to compete with a few of the top teams in the state,” Sean Ryan ‘18 said. “Though our record may not represent this, we have made significant improvements with our team’s dynamic and performance.”

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