Poised and aggressive.
New Trier put its 0-2 start in the rearview mirror Tuesday at Stevenson. The Trevians were firing on all cylinders while cruising to a 25-13, 25-21 victory over the previously unbeaten and No. 9-ranked Patriots.
It was beautiful music to New Trier coach Sue Ellen Haak’s ears.
“0-2 is a tough way to start the season,” Haak said of her team’s losses to Libertyville and Lincoln-Way East. “But we like to do that (schedule difficult openers). I was proud of our team tonight. They played poised. They stayed aggressive the whole time.
“We really had no trouble serving, passing, which kept us in the game even when they (Stevenson) turned it on in the second set,” she added. “It was a good start. Poised and aggressive.”
The Trevians had more difficulty facing their classmates at school Monday than they did on the court Tuesday.
“Everybody was asking, ‘How’s the season going?’” New Trier’s 6-foot-6 middle hitter James Snyder said. “We knew we played some really good teams. We have a bunch of young guys. We only have six returners this year. There are 10 new guys on the team.
“We knew it was going to take a while to mesh,” he added. “We got one day of practice and we were here. We weren't sure what we were going to get, but we’re looking real good. That was a real fun game.”
Not so much fun for Stevenson (6-1), which fell behind 18-6 in Game 1.
“I put a lot of guys on center stage,” Stevenson coach Eric Goolish said. “They had friends here. The media was here. They didn’t know how to deal with it. Stage fright? Maybe a little bit. But it’s good for them in the long run. We want to experience these things.
“We had a great start, almost too good of a start,” he added. “6-0. We only lost one set. We felt like we were in control of every match we played. No stress at all. We got a lot of stress today. They didn’t know how to deal with it.”
The Patriots gave their fans a lot more to cheer about in Game 2, jumping out to leads of 4-1 and 7-4 before the Trevians made their move. New Trier tied the game at 12-12, then went on an 8-2 run before a kill from Stevenson's 6-3 sophomore outside hitter Gavin Meng temporarily stopped the bleeding.
But that was as good as it got for the Patriots. Snyder’s slam at 24-21 slammed the door on the set and the match.
“I think they (Stevenson) came out stronger in the second set,” New Trier’s Loyola-bound 6-6 middle hitter Joe D’Attomo said. “I think every team will after losing the first set. But we started banging in the second. It was good to see the young guys keep their composure.”
Poised and aggressive.
Snyder (2 blocks), 6-5 sophomore Peter Brown and 6-4 junior Jay Saravis each had 5 kills for New Trier. D’Attomo added 4 kills and 6-3 junior setter Ben Wiegand had 21 assists and 2 blocks.
Wiegand, who was on the junior varsity last year, continues to impress his coach.
“Lefty sensation,” Haak said. “He’s a total thinker. He wants to do his best and he works his tail off. What people don't realize is about him is that he gets into the game and he switches personalities. He runs the court in a really calm manner. We've been really impressed with him so far.”
Stevenson got 8 kills from Meng, 4 kills each from 6-5 middle blocker Matt Cliffer and 6-5 outside hitter Leo Chen, and 10 assists each from Haddon Kay and junior Will Sorenson.
“Better now than championship of tournaments or state playoffs,” Goolish said. “We recovered well in the second game, but even the sophomore (Meng) walking away said he was rattled in the first set.
“That can happen,” the coach added. “But he played really well in the second set … ball control, tooling off the block, rolling the ball.”