Normalcy returned to the Tiger Classic at Wheaton Warrenville South on Thursday.
Unlike Wednesday’s pool play which saw two top seeds fall by the wayside, all four top seeds advanced to Saturday’s Gold flight following Thursday’s action.
Barrington, however, was the only top seed that did not need to go overtime in either of its matches to advance.
The Broncos (7-1) made short work of St. Rita (25-22, 25-5) and Glenbrook North (25-17, 25-14) and were probably disembarking their bus at Barrington High School while the other three top seeds were still struggling to survive.
“I thought we did nice job of controlling the ball tonight,” Barrington coach Rob Ridenour said. “Our first contact was good, which is a strength this year … our serve-receive, first contact, defense … we were really solid from those standpoints and gave ourselves a lot of good opportunities.”
Benefitting from solid backrow passing from libero Thomas Chapman and defensive specialist Kyle Vasquez were 6-foot-6 outside hitter Michael O’Toole (14 kills), 6-4 junior outside hitter Gabe Hartke (13 kills) and 6-3 sophomore opposite hitter Ben Ridgway (8 kills).
“I thought Ben had a real good night,” Ridenour said. “His blocking was great. Offensively, he took a few big swings. We really need that to balance out O'Toole and Gabe. He gives us a little different look (setting and hitting from the front row). He does a nice job there.”
But Barrington still has some things to clean up before Saturday’s Gold flight quarterfinal against Neuqua Valley (4-0).
“We missed a lot of float serves and our float-pressure was hit or miss,” O’Toole said. “I personally did not serve well. I feel like it comes down to serve-receive and serve-pressure for us. If we’re doing that well, we'll have a good chance.”
St. Rita (7-3), which also lost to Glenbrook North 25-17, 25-16, gave itself little chance in its match against Barrington.
“We shot ourselves in the foot with some of the errors in the first game, and it was more of the same in the second,” St. Rita coach Brian Hagen said. “Hitting error after hitting error. Mental errors. We just weren’t just ready to play. They’re (Barrington) too good of a team not be ready to play against.”
Glenbrook North coach Chris Cooper watched his team make typical first-match mistakes against the Broncos.
“We’re still a young team as far as experience is concerned,” he said. “We showed sometimes we're OK, but we also showed that we’re really inexperienced. Some things you can't mimic in practice no matter how much you practice.
“There are some things they’re just getting used to seeing,” Cooper added.
Marist (8-1) needed three sets in both of its matches Thursday to advance. The Redhawks defeated Addison Trail 21-25, 25-16, 25-9 in their opener, then downed fellow south sider Sandburg 25-21, 23-25, 25-21 to win their pool.
“We woke up a little bit in Game 3 (against Addison Trail),” Marist coach Jordan Vidovic said. “We knew we were going to get it in this tournament, so the more repetitions we get right now the better for us.
What we’re working on is just trying to do a little bit more consistently,” he added. “That was our struggle. It sounds like some other teams are in the same boat. But we’ll keep plugging along and try to keep battling.”
Top-seeded Lincoln-Way East (4-0) found itself in a battle with Lockport in its pool play finale Thursday. After winning the first set, the Griffins nearly overcame a 24-19 deficit in Game 2 before a hitting error gave the Porters the set.
Lincoln-Way East then built a 14-5 lead in the third set, but Lockport (5-4) answered with a 7-1 run to close to 15-12 and force Lincoln-Way East coach Kris Fiore to burn a timeout. However, a service error and a hitting error coming out of the timeout squashed Lockport’s upset bid.
“(Going three sets with Lincoln-Way East) is a credit to the kids,” Lockport coach Nick Mraz said. “We pushed back. We fought back. But we were sloppy. We made too many mistakes. (Lincoln-Way East outside hitter Ian) Piet woke up toward the end of the second set and carried them into the third.
“But we took the No. 1 team in the state to three games, so we got to be happy with that,” he added. “The problem is … we didn't finish.”
Lockport didn’t finish off Loyola in both teams’ pool play finale, either. The Ramblers evened their record at 5-5 with a 25-22, 25-19 win over the Porters.
“Yesterday at practice, we talked about improving in three areas – communication, intensity, and getting zeros before errors,” Loyola coach Lionel Ebeling said. “We had better ball control, we had a lot of intensity and our communication was good tonight.”
Wheaton Warrenville South (4-5) also advanced out of its pool, needing three sets to defeat Minooka 23-25, 25-17, 25-19 and Hilliard Darby (Ohio) 25-23, 20-25, 25-16.
Meanwhile, Ebeling provided the rest of the field at the Tiger Classic with a caveat.
“Lincoln-Way East is really good,” he said.
See all results and box scores under "Tourney Results."