Lyons Township boys volleyball coach Joann Pyritz has three simple goals: win the West Suburban (Silver) Conference, make the top four in each tournament the team competes in during the regular season, and earn a birth in the state tournament. Easy, right?
Considering the Lions face each team in their conference once and compete in some of the top tournaments in the area, Pyritz’s goals are lofty to say the least. Still, the results thus far have been promising. The Lions recently competed in the Conant Invitational where they took second. Lyons defeated Stevenson, York and Carmel, before falling to Lake Park in the final.
“I was pleased with the result, but we just ran out of gas in the championship game,” Pyritz said. “We played three, three game matches in pool play before facing Lake Park. Plus, we played all four matches in one day, so considering that, I think it was a very good start to our season.”
After finishing last season tied for first with Downers Grove North, LT (31-7, 5-1 last year) lost in the sectional final, something Pyritz and Co. hope to change. LT boasts a talented stable of players beginning with seniors Patrick Kilrea, who will play outside hitter, and Chris Arquilla at libro (defensive specialist). Both have played have played on varsity all four years and have already assumed leadership roles, according to Pyritz.
The talent continues in the junior class with 6-foot-2-inch setters Mike Hancock and Scott Clay. Both have worked extensively with each other, allowing Pyritz to easily insert either into the lineup. Justas Pagogus, will play right-side hitter, while Kevin Smuda will play outside hitter. The lanky 6-6 Matt Hirt will play middle hitter along with Andrew Gulik and Andy Weirsma.
All of these players will be integral to Lyons success, but there are still areas LT needs to improve, according to Pyritz. LT will need to be cautious of every team it plays, but Downers Grove, York and Oak Park will give them the most trouble in the conference. Ultimately, the Lions’ main motivation is to avenge last season’s sectional final loss.
“We should be able to control the net because we have a tall front line,” Pyritz said. “But, we need to improve our all around game and our defense needs to be solid along with our setting. If we take care of these facets, we should do very well.
“Obviously, we have some things to work on. But, their work ethic has been great and as long as we stay healthy, I think we can achieve all the goals we have set.”