High-SchoolVolleyball: Wheaton Warrenville South

By Kirstin Olsen

WHEATON, Ill. -- The Wheaton Warrenville South boys’ volleyball team, which finished the season with a 42-0 record and the school’s seventh state championship, was honored on Friday as the POWERADE FAB 50 national champions.

Parents, coaches and fans were present at an assembly at the Wheaton Warrenville South gym. The team was led onto the court by a drum line, and principal Dave Claypool spoke to the group and introduced coach Bill Schreier and WWS alums Matt McCarthy (Ball State) and Doug Burchett (Illinois), who also won state championships.

“This has to be considered an incredible honor to cap an incredible season. We have had two previous teams go undefeated. The 2001 team with Sean Rooney went 38-0 and the 2004 team went 41-0 led by Matt McCarthy,” coach Bill Schreier said. “Every trek has its bumps and bruises along the way, and this was no different.

“I do know that I have never had a team as focused and committed as this team. This national championship is a culmination of all of the work that has been put in over the last two seasons. Memories last a lifetime, and this is something that will never be forgotten. To go 84-2 in sets throughout the season is a remarkable accomplishment and cap to a great senior group.”

Senior co-captain Thomas Jaeschke, a 6-foot-6 outside hitter and Loyola recruit, was selected Chicago Area Player of the Year. Senior co-captain Matt Callaway, a 6-8 middle hitter and Penn State recruit, also was a first-team All-Chicago Area honoree. Both were first-team AVCA All Americans.

Wheaton Warrenville South is the first boys’ volleyball team from Illinois to win the national championship.
FAB 50Courtesy of Wheaton Warrenville SouthWheaton Warrenville South capped its undefeated season with a state championship.
Mark Tennis and Kirstin Olsen

The New Jersey Tournament of Champions concluded on Thursday night, and all 50 positions in the final POWERADE FAB 50 for the 2012 boys' volleyball season have been locked up.

With the final rankings also comes the official announcement that the mythical national champion is Wheaton Warrenville South (Wheaton, Ill.).

It was considered seriously to move up No. 2 Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) due to an advantage in strength of schedule, but it wasn't so much of an advantage that a team should be dropped after already sitting in the No. 1 position.

Wheaton Warrenville South becomes the first Illinois team to end the season No. 1 in the nation in boys' volleyball, and it could be the best team in state history. The Tigers completed their perfect run with a 25-21, 25-13 triumph over Glenbrook North (Northbrook, Ill.) in last Saturday's state championship.

While coach Bill Schreier's squad has never finished 42-0 before, the school has had two previous unbeaten state champions, and on Saturday won its seventh state crown overall.

In the New Jersey final, Fair Lawn defeated previous FAB 50 No. 33 Southern Regional (Manahawkin, N.J.) and moves into the final rankings. Southern Regional stays, too, due to having two previous wins over Fair Lawn.

Click here for the final rankings of the 2012 season.
By Mark Tennis and Kirstin Olsen

Mira Costa Boys VolleyballKirstin OlsenMira Costa survived an epic five-set match against Oak Park and remains No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings.

The CIF Southern California regional championships are in the books from last weekend, and two teams clinched at least No. 2 and No. 3 final rankings in this year's FAB 50.

No. 2 Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) was looking for a rematch after going 1-1 with previous No. 3 Westview (San Diego, Calif.). The Mustangs didn't get an opportunity for that because the Wolverines were upset by late-season powerhouse Oak Park (Agoura Hills, Calif.). But Mira Costa certainly was tested in Saturday's Division II final.

Oak Park and Mira Costa, in fact, traded seven match points in a marathon five-set contest. The Mustangs were down in the fifth set 14-12 but, after fighting off four match points, prevailed 24-26, 25-16, 25-19, 24-26, 20-18.

A valiant effort from Oak Park senior outside hitters Justin Parks (23 kills) and Bradley Sakaida (16 kills) was matched by Costa senior outside hitter Chris Orenic (33 kills). Scott Stephanoff (12 kills) also stepped up his game late in the match.

No. 3 Loyola, meanwhile, wanted to turn around a loss to No. 4 Otay Ranch (Chula Vista, Calif.) from last month's Redondo Power Classic in the Division I SoCal final. The Cubs did just that with a 25-20, 25-19, 25-14 win. They were without senior outside hitter Nick Porterfield with a sprained ankle, but senior outside hitter Alex Slaught came up big with 17 kills.

Click here for the complete Week 11 rankings.
Wheaton Warrenville SouthConrad CasteloWith a perfect record and a strong showing by other Illinois teams, Wheaton Warrenville South (Wheaton, Ill.) takes over the top spot in the FAB 50 rankings.

Although Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), the CIF Southern Section Division I champion, has a strong argument to be the new No. 1 team in the POWERADE FAB 50, the choice this week instead has gone to unbeaten Wheaton Warrenville South (Wheaton, Ill.).

Coach Bill Schreier's team improved to 36-0 on Tuesday night with an easy win over St. Francis (Wheaton, Ill.) in the regional round of the state playoffs. The Tigers have been No. 1 in Illinois since the start of the season and have not slipped in a single match.

Also helping Wheaton Warrenville South in the rankings is the performance of teams from Illinois in general against other top teams from other states, including a win by No. 11 Lincoln-Way East (Frankfort, Ill.) over No. 14 Buchanan (Clovis, Calif.).

If Mira Costa only had two losses on the season instead of four, or if the Mustangs had been completely healthy all season, then they'd probably not have dropped behind the Tigers earlier.

One of the reasons Mira Costa was seriously considered to jump past Wheaton Warrenville South is that the Mustangs beat previous No. 1 Loyola (Los Angeles) 25-19, 25-22, 25-27, 21-25, 15-12 in last Saturday's CIF Southern Section Division I finals.

It was Mira Costa's first CIFSS title since 2008. Setter Jackson Carr had 58 assists and 10 blocks while outside hitter Chris Orenic had 24 kills and 10 digs.

Click here for the complete Week 10 rankings.
Loyola VolleyballVbshots.comLoyola (Los Angeles) has a few more hurdles to clear if it wants to claim the mythical national title.

California's sectional playoffs are just about wrapped up, which means it could be one giant hurdle cleared by No. 1 Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.) in its quest to be the mythical national champion.

The Cubs got past No. 6 Servite (Anaheim, Calif.) in Tuesday's semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs with a three-set sweep and will meet No. 3 Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) in Saturday's championship.

To hold off unbeaten Wheaton Warrenville South (Wheaton, Ill.), Loyola needs to win that title and then follow it up with a title in the CIF Southern California regional championships.

State championships in Florida and Arizona are now complete with Missouri on track to complete its championships this weekend.

Click here for the complete Week 9 rankings.
FAB 50Kirstin Olsen/ESPNHSOtay Ranch knocked off No. 1 Loyola at the Redondo Varsity Classic and moves up to No. 6 in this week's FAB 50.
By Mark Tennis and Kirstin Olsen

The Redondo Varsity Classic offered an opportunity for some major upsets last weekend with nine POWERADE FAB 50 teams participating from San Diego to the San Fernando Valley.

There were upsets, including one of the biggest of the season, when No. 1 Loyola (Los Angeles) was toppled in the semifinals by Otay Ranch (San Diego). The event was won by Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach.

Mira Costa, with USC commit Chris Orenic playing for the first time this season after rehabbing an injury, avenged an earlier loss to Westview (San Diego) in the semifinals and then defeated Otay Ranch 25-21, 25-21 in the final. Senior setter and George Mason commit Jackson Carr had 28 assists in the championship match.

Due to the tourney title, Mira Costa inched up from No. 4 to No. 3 in this week's rankings. While the team did lose to former No. 3 Esperanza (Anaheim) earlier in the season, that was prior to Orenic's return.

The more difficult decision was whether to keep Loyola at No. 1 or move up No. 2 Wheaten Warrenville South. Since Loyola still has a win over Mira Costa and could avenge its only loss later in the Southern California regional playoffs, the Cubs stayed in the top spot.

Loyola also will have to deal not only with Mira Costa and Esperanza in the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs, but other top-ranked squads as well. Its strength of schedule would still trump Wheaton Warrenville South if both teams win out, but with one more loss for Loyola, an unbeaten Wheaton Warrenville South would get the edge.

Click here for the complete Week 7 rankings.
By Mark Tennis and Kirstin Olsen

EsperanzaTom HauckEsperanza (Anaheim, Calif.) claimed the title at the Karch Kiraly Tournament of Champions and moves up to No. 3 in the FAB 50 rankings.

The Karch Kiraly Tournament of Champions last weekend in Santa Barbara, Calif., offered the possibilities for some upsets in a match-style tournament, and it did not disappoint.

Previous FAB 50 No. 6 Esperanza (Anaheim, Calif.) dominated the field with some spirited play and ended its trip with a huge win over previous No. 2 Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) in the final.

The Aztecs defeated the Mustangs 25-23, 25-20, 25-23 and finished the weekend 4-0. Sophomore opposite Jake Arnitz led the way with 53 kills in the tournament. He had 17 in the final and added five blocks.

Since Esperanza is not a solid No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section behind FAB 50 No. 1 Loyola of Los Angeles - the Aztecs are not top-ranked in the Orange County Register's poll - that helped clear the way for unbeaten Wheaton Warrenville South (Wheaton, Ill.) to grab the No. 2 ranking in this week's FAB 50.

Wheaton Warrenville South could still get hopped at some point by a top California team, but if the Tigers were to finish unbeaten and win a state title, its chances of being the FAB 50 mythical champion are better this week than before.

Click here for the complete Week 5 rankings.
By Mark Tennis and Kirstin Olsen

With the majority of schools in Southern California on spring break for much of this week and last week, many teams in the POWERADE FAB 50 were idle since the last rankings were compiled.

There was some shuffling at the top of the order, however, after Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) went to the Clash of the Titans in Hawaii and prevailed in matches over two FAB 50 teams from the islands, including one win against previous No. 2 Punahou.

The Mustangs, who also topped Hawaii Baptist during the trip, moved up to No. 2 from No. 4 in this week's rankings. Punahou slipped to No. 5 behind No. 3 Wheaton Warrenville South (Wheaton, Ill.) and new No. 4 Servite (Anaheim, Calif.).

This weekend, 16 teams will play in the Karch Kiraly Tournament of Champions at Santa Barbara (Calif.). Mira Costa, Buchanan (Clovis, Calif.), Santa Margarita (Rancho SM, Calif.), Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, Calif.), Thousand Oaks (Calif.) and Esperanza (Anaheim, Calif.) will all be among those competing.

Click here for the complete Week 4 rankings.
By Kirstin Olsen

Wheaton Warrenville South volleyballConrad CasteloThomas Jaeschke (17) of Wheaton Warrenville South played soccer, baseball, football, basketball and golf as a kid. "My school's volleyball program is built around winning, and naturally that was what I gravitated toward," he says.

BROWSE OUR GALLERY: Tiger Classic photos

Thomas Jaeschke, a 6-foot-7 outside hitter for Wheaton Warrenville South, was named MVP after leading the No. 4 team in the POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings to the title at the Tiger Classic in Wheaton, Ill.

The Tigers bested the talented field, which included No. 34 Archbishop Moeller of Cincinnati, and beat Lincoln-Way East (Frankfort, Ill.) 25-19,25-18 in the final.

Jaeschke finished the weekend with 36 kills, 16 aces, 5 blocks and 24 digs and got a compliment from his coach Bill Schreier, who compared him to Wheaton Warrenville South alum and Olympic gold medalist Sean Rooney.

The Loyola commit, who didn't start playing until his freshman year, has been racking up the accolades this season. In addition to the Tiger Classic MVP, he was named MVP of the Bison Battle and was named an alternate on the U.S. National Youth Team.

ESPNHS caught up with the MVP, who talked about life, volleyball, the Tiger Classic and California vs. Illinois volleyball.

Wheaton Warrenville South volleyball
Conrad CasteloThomas Jaeschke (17) racked up 36 kills for Wheaton Warrenville South at the Tiger Classic.
ESPNHS: When did you start playing volleyball?
TJ: I started playing volleyball for my school freshman year, which was my first time ever, and then I started club my sophomore year, which was my first real exposure to the sport.

ESPNHS: Who influenced you?
TJ: In life, my biggest influence is my dad. He grew up very poor and built his life around nothing, paid his way through college and dental school, and built his own successful practice.

ESPNHS: Why did you choose to play volleyball over other sports?
TJ: For one simple reason: Tradition. My school's volleyball program is built around winning, and naturally that was what I gravitated toward.

ESPNHS: What have you accomplished thus far in volleyball?
TJ:I was named to the all-tournament team at junior nationals last year. I have been a three-year varsity player at my high school. I had the most kills last season, and was named captain along with Matt Callaway and Matt Nussbaum this season. Most recently, I was named alternate for the youth national team for my age group. Hopefully my future holds more opportunities for me.

ESPNHS: Why did you choose Loyola of Chicago?
TJ:Because of the team. It's a great group of guys and I cannot wait to be a part of it. Also I am getting some academic money from them, which played a big role. Furthermore, I like how Loyola is so close to Chicago, but when you are on the Lakeshore campus you cannot tell how close to the city you are. The atmosphere is great, and I also really like the coaching staff. It seemed like a great fit.

ESPNHS: What other schools were you considering?
TJ:Princeton, Penn State, UCLA and UC San Diego. Obviously all great schools and to be considered by them is truly an honor.

ESPNHS: How do you feel about your high school team this year?
TJ:We’re just getting there. Our setter (Kit Bruzek) did not play club, but honestly he is doing incredible. He is far more advanced than I had expected, and we have a great coach in Mr. Schreier, who works with him every day and he is becoming one of the better setters around.

ESPNHS: Do you feel like you have something to prove?
TJ: I’m not sure about that, but the taste of sectionals last year is definitely still sour in our mouths. We are not trying to prove anyone wrong, just prove that we are the best in state.

ESPNHS: How do you feel you played at the Tiger Classic?
TJ: The Tiger Classic was a good tournament, and our school hadn’t won it in three or four years, so the win was nice. With that being said, our team definitely is not where we need it to be, and the only way we will get there is working every day at practice. There is only one championship we want.

ESPNHS: How did you feel about earning MVP honors?
TJ: Earning MVP honors was nice, but to me that’s really not what it's about. We won the tournament, and that’s what makes me happy. It's nice winning it, but I think our setter Kit deserved MVP honors. He got all-tourney honors, and that was much deserved. With a team of our size, a kid like Kit can easily go unnoticed, and I'm happy to see him getting some recognition.

ESPNHS: How does it feel to be regarded as the No. 1 team in Illinois right now?
TJ: Being No. 1 is overrated. Everyone is gunning for you, and it's a much different match when they play our team. I think so far our team has handled it very well, and hopefully we can continue to handle it all season.

ESPNHS: What are your goals for the rest of the season?
TJ: To win state.

ESPNHS: What are your goals for college and beyond?
TJ: I would like to make an immediate impact on the Loyola team, and have a vital role on the team for a few solid years. Beyond that, if I can play on a professional club that would be incredible, but that’s very far away.

ESPNHS: How do you feel about the growth of men's volleyball in the U.S. in the past few years?
TJ: I love seeing the growth of men's volleyball. What if there was a professional league in the U.S. in 10 years? I think that would be incredible. People do not realize the caliber of athletes on our national team, and they are now starting to, so that's definitely nice to see.

ESPNHS: California and Illinois have the most boys participating in high school volleyball in the United States. Who would win in an all-state all-star game?
TJ: I think California, just due to their size. Volleyball is big in the Northwest part of Illinois, but beyond that it's not too large. In California the sport is huge all over the state. We wouldn’t roll over; it would be a fun game to play.

ESPNHS: What advice do you have for other young players out there?
TJ: I guess I would just say try your hand in any sport you can. Growing up I played soccer, baseball, football, basketball and golf. I think all this contributed to my success in volleyball. It helped me become a more well-rounded athlete. I guess I would just say do whatever you love most. That's what I did. If at first you're not the best, but you love the sport, then one day, with a lot of work, you can get there.