Lake County-area teams are elevating their games

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One way to gauge a school’s success on the volleyball court is by counting the number of awards on display in the school trophy case.

But there’s another way to evaluate what’s going on in the sport. It’s called the eye test.

Seeing is believing in girls volleyball and, now in his eighth year as coach at Grayslake Central, Jason Janczak likes what he sees.

And he’s not just talking about his squad, which finished 4-1 and took third in its own Ram Slam tournament and finished second at 4-1 in the Lakes Invitational.

He’s talking about the overall rise in the level of play at the high school level in this corner of the state. Last year, Libertyville took fourth in the big-school (Class 4A tournament). This year, several area squads, including Carmel, Libertyville, Lake Zurich, Lakes, Antioch’s and Janczak’s own Rams team have raised the level of their games.

The Rams have a veteran lineup, led by 6-2 Alex Dahlstrom and 5-9 Gabi Casper, and finished 24-14 last year. “When we put together a full match and play together, we can be pretty good,” Janczak said.

Of course, he noted that other teams are playing better, as well.

Why the on-court improvement?

Head coach Jason Janczak (eighth year)

“The emergence of a couple bigger clubs has played a big role. A number of girls up here (in Antioch and Lake Villa) are playing with clubs in Wisconsin,” Janczak said. “We have some girls playing Net Force (based out of Waukegan). Playing quality competition year-round has really elevated the level of play.”

And then, talking about tournaments such as the Lakes Invitational, he noted that, “Five, six, seven years ago, you could win this tournament with a dominant outside hitter. Now, you need to be able to serve and defend too. It’s great to see.”

Grayslake Central’s next big event is a tournament at Wauconda on Saturday.

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