There were some who doubted that Lincoln-Way West’s Michael Wexter had grown three inches over the summer after being listed at 6-foot-3 as a junior. But whether he’s 6-foot-4, 6-5 or 6-6, there’s little doubt that he’s the most conspicuous player on the court any time he plays.
Wexter had 10 kills, 10 assists and three aces Thursday to lead No. 3 Lincoln-Way West to a 25-20, 25-18 victory over host Bolingbrook in both team’s Southwest Suburban Conference opener.
What about that height controversy?
“They measured me at 6-5 and three-quarters at USAV tryouts,” Wexter said.
Thursday, Wexter towered over the Raiders serving, setting and hitting from both pins.
“He knows it’s his team and we’ll go as far as he take us,” Lincoln-Way West coach Brian Thorpe said. “You can see that whenever we’re in trouble, he’s going to get the ball and we expect him to do good things with it. That’s what we expect. That’s what he expects.”
Lincoln-Way West (14-0, 1-0) was never in trouble in Game 1 against Bolingbrook, racing to leads of 9-3, 13-6 and 18-10 despite the absence of 6-foot-5 middle Jacob Gasparich, who was out of town attending freshman orientation at MIT.
“We’re pretty deep,” Thorpe said. “We don’t get a lot of middle repetitions for our third middle (6-2 junior Tyler Korn), but he was able to step up. He was able to fill in and get some blocks up. That’s all we wanted out of him.”
Bolingbrook (8-5) kept Game 2 close early behind Joshua Simpson and Anthony Navarro before a 9-4 run gave the Warriors an 18-13 lead.
“One of our things last year was that we played better when we had fun than when we didn’t,” Wexter said. “We try to keep it as lighthearted as we can, but there’s always those games where you have to step up your intensity and bring as much as you can on the court.”
Sophomore Max Rosenfeld added four kills and a block and Dylan Kogut and Zaid Alnobani each had three kills for Lincoln-Way West.
“We have a couple of sophomores in our lineup this year who are really building the program up,” Wexter said. “They’re coming in and doing what they need to. Rosenfeld played the M1 today and really stepped it up. He had some great kills and some big blocks.”
Enrique Barajas led Bolingbrook with 12 assists, Simpson had five kills and a block and Navarro added three kills, a block and two aces.
Meanwhile, after Lincoln-Way North reached the championship match two years ago and Lincoln-Way East claimed the state title in 2014, is this Lincoln-Way West’s year to shine?
“I certainly hope so,” Wexter said. “I’m not going to call anything yet, though, because we still have a long way to go. We have to keep working hard in practice and see where it takes us. To get to the level of those teams you have to work every single day and you have to try as hard as you can in every single game.”