Lincoln-Way East's Austin Royer (16) during the second game of Friday's quarterfinal match against Edwardsville. | Brian O'Mahoney/For Sun-Times Media
That’s all that separated Lincoln-Way East teammates and 2014 Sun-Times All-Area selections Austin Royer and Josh Phalen from claiming a national championship to go along with the IHSA state title they won in early June.
Spiral 18 UA of Chandler, Ariz., defeated Ultimate B18 Gold – which featured Royer, Phalen and other players from the far south suburbs – 21-25, 25-22, 17-15 to win the 18 Open division at the USAV National Championships last week in Houston, Texas.
“Yeah, it was tough,” Royer said. “We played so well all nationals. That (Arizona) team just kind of came out of nowhere.”
How tough was it? Ultimate B18 Gold led 9-3 in the third set before Spiral roared back.
“It was crazy,” Royer said. “All the momentum was on our side. We switched sides up 8-3 in the third game and we had this huge play where three guys were on the ground and somebody hit the ball and we got the point.
“We were all hyped up. Momentum was on our side. Then things just started going wrong, one after another.”
Ultimate had a match point at 14-13, but was unable to hold off Spiral.
“I thought it’d be the coolest thing in the world to win both (a state title and a national title), but you can’t have everything,” Royer said.
The Sun-Times 2013 Player of the Year and two-time All-Area selection plans to relax during the next few weeks before embarking on the next phase of his career.
“It’s hard to stay away from volleyball during summer, especially with all the sand volleyball going on,” he said. “But I’m just going to relax, take a little break, play volleyball with friends just for fun. Nothing competitive. I think I’ll just end on a high note after nationals.”
Royer will continue his playing career at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, where he will play for first-year coach and former Mother McAuley player Catherine Wildner.
“It’s kind of sad to leave all my club and high school teammates,” Royer said. “After nationals, we were all like, ‘Man, this is it.’ We’ve been playing together since we were 14 years old. It’s probably good for all us to see the other side of it. We’ll always keep in touch.”
Royer won’t be in totally unfamiliar company at St. Ambrose. Older brother Nate is junior outside hitter for the Fighting Bees.
“I played with my brother before,” Austin Royer said. “It will be cool to play with him again.”
Joining Royer and Phalen on Ultimate B18 Gold were Jake Bobrowski, Zane Cecich, Brad McFarland, Mitch Perinar, Nick Vander Zanden, Jake Walenga, Matt Walsh and Mitch Weiler. Lincoln-Way North teammates McFarland and Walenga were also Sun-Times All-Area first team selections.
Meanwhile, Ultimate Volleyball’s second 18s team, which featured Royer’s Lincoln-Way East teammates Ryan Vorderer and Nate Van Dellen, finished 10th in the 18 Open division after losing to NCVC Asics 18-1 20-25, 26-24, 15-13 in the Silver bracket finals.
Joining Vorderer and Van Dellen on Ultimate B18 Blue were James Drynan, James Dusek, Brian Lyman, Kevin Myren, Neil Naughton, Carson Slager, Lars Torkelson, Adam Williams and Ian Zalewski.
The USAV Boys Junior National Championships last week at Houston, Texas, featured four top-five performances by teams from Sports Performance.
Sports Performance B17 Mizuno finished fifth in the 17 Open division, losing to Roch PaceBootlegger 17 25-19, 25-20 in the quarterfinals.
Team members included Jack Burton, Alex Dickmann, Scott Kleiser, Colin Michels, Michal Mierzwa, Jackson Nagle, Noah Ricchetti, Andrew Salmon, Parker Swartz, William Tischler and Shane Yeo.
Sports Performance B16 Runbird placed third in the 16 Club division, losing to eventual champ Ka Ulukoa M16 Mizuno 25-21, 25-16 in the semifinals to finish 8-3.
Team members included Drake Demaar, Jacob Furman, Casey Hiller, George Kallas, Noah Marzuki, Benjamin Mazza, Plamen Pavlov, Brandon Pedersen and Nicholas Spragg.
Sports Performance B18 Elite finished fifth in the 18 Open division.
Bakersfield 18 Judy defeated 1st Alliance 18 Black 25-20, 17-25, 19-17 to deny the girls from Western Springs a national championship in the 18 USA division at the recently concluded USAV Girls Junior National Championships in Minneapolis, Minn.
Team members of 1st Alliance 18 Black included Samantha Brown, Kelly Ferguson, Cori Hansen, Bridget Krasowski, Molly Mayo, Kelly McGovern, Sarah Muisenga, Myah Reed, Kacie Stoll, Haley Sullivan and Halle Truett.
Addison Trail named longtime assistant and interim head coach Chad Grant to succeed Tom Hubner as head coach of the boys volleyball program. Grant, who graduated from Addison Trail in 2004, had been Hubner’s assistant for nine years.
“We are returning very strong passers, experienced middles who will both be third year varsity starters and one of the best offensive players in the state,” Grant said. “Expectations are very high. The boys understand that and they are embracing it.”
Addison Trail finished 33-5 and reached the sectional semifinals in 2014 behind junior Alex Dickmann, who has more than 900 kills in his career, junior middle Jack Vrchota, sophomore middle Kannon Nelms, junior setter Joe Nasti and junior defensive specialist Zach Vaca.
Grant will continue to serve as head coach of the girls program at Glenbard South, where he has also been for nine years and head coach for the past four.
Wheaton Warrenville South is looking for a boys freshman B team to participate in a quadrangular on May 23, 2015. If interested, contact WW South head volleyball coach Bill Schreier at William.Schreier@cusd200.org.
The AAU named its 2014 Girls Junior National Volleyball Championships All-American Teams shortly after the tournament concluded in Orlando, Fla.
Local selections included Bridget Lumb of Sports Performance 15 Mizuno and Taylor Brown of Fusion South 15 Silver in the 15 Classic division; Veronica Snelling of Sports Performance 15 White in the 15 Club division; and Sara Nielsen of Sports Performance 15 Red in the 15 Premier division.
Also, Grace Loberg of Fusion South 15 Red and Ashley Shook of Sports Performance 15 Elite in the 15 Open division.
Among the All-Americans in the 16s were Melinda Bloomberg of Sky High 16 Purple; Abby Majercik, Sydney Holt and Isabella Milejczyk of Sky High 16 Blue; and Alexis Bass and Ashley Anne Walker of Sports Performance 16 Navy in the 16 Classic division.
Also, Maeve Grimes of Lions 16 Red, Danielle Messa and Allison Maloney of Sports Performance 16 Blue, and Julia O’Malley and Sione Salerno of Club Fusion 16 White in the 16 Club division.
Named All-Americans in the 17s were Kelly Bertrand of Sports Performance 17 Runbird in the 17 Classic division; Maggie McGraw of Club Fusion 17 White and Michaela Ping of Fusion South 17 Red in the 17 Club division; and Valentina Manns of Ultimate G17 Gold in the 17 Premier division.
Named All-Americans in the 18s were Sydney Cheatham and Ashley Hitchcock of Sports Performance 18 Navy and Mary Kate Katarczynski of Sports Performance 18 Mizuno in the 18 Classic division; and Krissa Gearing, Meg DeMarr and Kimmy Martino of Sports Performance 18 Red in the 18 Premier division.
Also, Dakota Santore of Sports Performance 18 White in the 18 Club division; and Annika Albrecht, Molly Haggerty and Rachel MInarick of Sports Performance 18 Elite and Kelli Ann Bates of Ultimate G18 Gold in the 18 Open division.
Milejczyk, Martino and Minarick were named MVP in their respective divisions.
The next Junior Players Beach Volleyball Series tournament at North Avenue Beach will be held Sunday, July 27. The event has four divisions for boys and girls – 12U, 14U, 16U and 18U.
All teams are guaranteed at least three pool play matches with the top teams advancing to the playoffs. Winners receive medals, sponsored gear and championship fleeces.
For more information, go to https://luauvolleyball.leaguelab.com/page/juniors.
Benedictine University will host a Summer Volleyball Camp for boys and girls ages 7-13 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Wednesday-Friday, July 20-August 1. The cost is $175 and includes lunch and a T-shirt.
For more information, contact men’s volleyball coach Dan Buehring at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (630) 829-6000.