Parker Swartz is making up for lost time.
Swartz, a 6-5 senior middle hitter who was limited to just 13 kills and nine blocks all of last year due to injury, had 12 kills, two aces and a block Saturday to lead No. 1 ranked Glenbard West to a 25-14, 25-17 victory over Glenbard East in the championship match of the Springfest Tournament in Lombard.
“Our middles are outstanding,” Glenbard West coach Christine Giunta-Mayer said. “They close, they read, they communicate. I actually have middles who talk and talk and talk, and it’s helping the whole floor.
“Then my defense tells my middles the block’s not closed, it’s open. It’s the collective effort of all of them. Then [setter Paulie] Bischoff betters every ball. It doesn’t matter where the ball is, he’s going to put the ball up, and we’re putting the ball down.”
Bischoff had 28 assists in the championship match, and despite not working with Swartz at all last year, the two have established a connection this spring.
“It’s a chemistry,” Giunta-Mayer said. “It’s just one of those things. They just connect. Our middles are a huge part of our game right now because we trust them.”
Swartz said his connection with Bischoff developed during the offseason.
“We do some stuff in club and we put a lot of extra practice time in the gym,” Swartz said. “Paulie and I have a great connection. All these guys, we’re like brothers. We hang out all the time. It’s always a blast. It’s just a ton of fun to play with them on the court.”
Glenbard West (8-0) enjoyed itself in Game 1, building leads of 7-2 and 12-5 against its district rival. But No. 4 Glenbard East (12-1) matched West point-for-point in Game 2 and was within 17-16 on a block by Adam Eboli.
But a tip kill by Swartz ignited a 7-0 run by the Hilltoppers. The run featured three kills by 6-4 opposite Jackson Nagle and an ace by Swartz.
“We got frozen multiple times,” said Glenbard East coach Marci Maier, who took a timeout at 20-16 to try to stop the run but to no avail. “We were digging in on defense and you got to be dug in, but then you have to be ready to run out of that. We kind of like got stuck in mud a few times.
“Against a good team like that, you can’t let balls hit the floor without two or three people diving after them, and we stood and watched multiple balls hit the floor that went off hands and didn’t go right where we expected them to. We didn’t run them down. That was a little uncharacteristic for us.”
Kyler Kotsakis added six kills, and Nagle and Eric Burton both had five kills for Glenbard West, which lost to Warren in last year’s state semifinals.
“We really want to finish this year,” Swartz said. “We’re really pushing. We have depth beyond compare. We have people who are second string and are coming up pushing us in practice. My cousin Kyler on the rightside is doing great. Paulie is doing great. This was a great tournament for everybody.”
Nick Symonds had 10 kills, Eboli added four kills and a block and Andrew Hurlburt had 17 assists for Glenbard East, which reached the championship match by defeating Benet, 25-16, 25-22, in the semifinals.
“Glenbard East is a great team,” Benet coach Amy Van Eekeren said. “I think they have excellent ball control and passing skills. They also served very aggressively, and we got thrown out of our offense a little bit. We were a little more out of system than I would like to be.”
Benet (13-4) bounced back from its semifinal loss to defeat Schaumburg, 25-15, 25-21, for third place.
Downers Grove South rallied in the second game to defeat Plainfield Central, 25-18, 25-23, for fifth place.