Last spring, Spencer Munroe had a front row seat to the first losing season in the history of the Naperville North boys volleyball program.
This season, he and the eight other seniors on the roster are determined to not let the Huskies take a backseat to anyone.
Wednesday in Naperville North’s season opener against visiting Neuqua Valley, Munroe, a 6-7 opposite side hitter, had four kills, two blocks and four aces to lead the Huskies to a 25-17, 25-14 victory.
“I didn’t play a lot last year,” Munroe said. “I started like two games, then I was injured. I got to watch a lot. Last year was awful. Coming out and beating teams badly is our motivation this year since last year was so bad.”
Munroe figures to be an integral part of the Huskies’ attack, particularly since he is the tallest player on the roster.
“Last year, I was probably 6-3, 6-4,” he said. “Being taller helps hitting over people, getting a higher block, scaring the hitters on the other side with my arms over the net. It’s awesome.”
Naperville North trailed 7-6 in the first set before going on a 13-5 run fueled by kills from Munroe, Frank Dore and Michael Jennings. The second set was all Huskies as they built an early 8-2 lead and coasted behind three aces from Munroe and a pair of kills by Jack Lenert.
“I have to give lot of credit to our second team because they had a really good scrimmage at the end of practice yesterday to get our starters ready,” Naperville North coach Nate Bornancin said. “I was a little worried during warmups when we were hitting balls in the tape and out of bounds. But we really cleaned it up for the match.”
Leadership from co-captains Jack Rothmund and Andy Leon is helping to turn around the attitude after last year’s 16-21 season which included a 4-10 mark in the DuPage Valley Conference and a 25-15, 25-22 loss to Lyons in a regional semifinal.
“Jack and Andy really know how to affect the players in a positive way,” Bornancin said. “Especially a kid like Andy, who didn’t play a ton last year but worked his butt off in the offseason. That’s what you want to see from your kids.”
Lenert added five kills, Dore and Jennings both had four kills and Rothmund had 10 assists.
Neuqua Valley was led by Austin Neace, Tim Wagner and Brian McKissick with three kills each.
“After a match like tonight it’s fairly obvious what we need to work on,” Neuqua Valley coach Erich Mendoza said. “The few times we actually had a halfway decent pass, we got some really nice swings. We have really good hitters on our team.
“But when our setters are running all over the place, we can’t do very much with that. Our passing was awful. We’ve got the talent to take advantage of at least a halfway decent pass. It doesn’t have to be perfect. But they weren’t even close tonight.
“But give North credit. They serve received better than we did, they dug the ball better than we did, and they hit smart.”