CHANNAHON — When you are the No. 2 ranked team in the state of Illinois, there is usually a reason for it. On Thursday night at the Minooka Community High School south campus, the Indians boys volleyball team displayed one of its biggest strengths.
Playing in front of the home crowd on senior night, Minooka showed off its depth by dedicating the floor to the nine seniors on the team. It resulted in a 25-16, 25-11 win over Oswego in Southwest Prairie Conference action and the team's 30th victory of the season.
"It was awesome. It was a great time," Minooka senior Jacob Fleischauer. "There was a lot of energy in the crowd — a lot of energy."
Minooka's starting lineup was obviously tweaked with some players getting into positions they don't normally play. It consisted of Adam Holstine, David Hynek, Fleischauer, Phillip Hannon, Luis Guerrero, Nicholas Mason and Maalik Walker.
"The kids knew about it ahead of time," Minooka coach Janel Grzetich said of the all-senior showing. "We went over it in practice yesterday … only seniors on senior night. All nine seniors got to play. They wanted to play to win, too. They all did really well. It was a really fun game to watch."
While the four juniors and one freshman on the team sat as spectators, the Indians seniors went out and went right after the Panthers.
Though it was 10-10 at one juncture, the Indians went on a 6-2 run and made that hold up until the end. Hynek got the final kill for the 25th point as Holstine, Hynek, Hannon, Matthew Svetlecich, Mason and Walker were in the final rotation.
"I know this means a lot to the seniors. We've dedicated our last four years to this program," Minooka senior Alexander Short said. "We've all put in a lot of hard work, whether we are a starter or coming off the bench. It was fun tonight."
Short also mentioned that getting all of the seniors into the lineup and winning the way it did shows the depth of the team.
"Everyone on the team is a great athlete," he said. "Most everyone also plays competitively in club ball. We definitely do have a deep team."
Hannon started the second game with an ace as the Indians cruised to a 7-1 lead out of the gate. It was all fun for the Minooka seniors from there.
"We have a very deep bench," Grzetich said. "We had some people playing in positions they don't normally play tonight … they were having such a blast. It was a lot of fun to watch. They really did play very well. They proved themselves. They proved their capabilities and cohesiveness as a team."
Holstine ended the match with 12 assists, five kills, three digs and two aces while Fleischauer added three kills, two aces and two digs. The 6-6 Walker also kicked in with a team-high seven kills and three blocks.
"It feels great because it shows that the coach trusts us and has confidence in us," Fleischauer said. "We really communicate well. All the seniors on the team are friends both on and off the court and I think that helps us out a lot."
Minooka is now 30-2 overall and 12-0 in the SPC. The Indians finish the regular season next week with games at Plainfield Central and Oswego East before opening up postseason play.
"This group of seniors has meant quite a lot. From their work ethic, to their attitude and their positive energy," Grzetich said. "The seniors make up the majority of the team this and they are the ones that set the tone for everyone else."