Huskies due for a championship

Volleyball playoff preview

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By BRAD SPENCER

Time, effort and due process alone constitute a State title for the OPRF volleyball program. The second-ranked Huskies have tasted State tournament action four times since 1996. The program has finished runner-up three times since 1992. This year's squad is as good, if not better, than the back-to-back runner-up teams of 1992 and '93, or the '98 team that went 37-2.

While the West Suburban (Silver) Conference title slipped out from under their grasp earlier this season (a loss to Lyons Township earlier this month), the Huskies remain a front-runner for the State championship to be held at Hoffman Estates on June 4. The No. 1 seed in their own sectional shouldn't see any roadblocks facing such opponents as Riverside-Brookfield or Kelvyn Park in the Holy Trinity Regional title match tonight (7:30 p.m.). The Huskies devoured RB 25-15, 25-7 in mid-April with the help of UCLA-bound Sean O'Malley. The 6-foot-8-inch senior played havoc on the Bulldogs with 14 kills, four digs and a block.

While O'Malley has led OPRF to a stellar 26-5 season, he's gotten considerable help from talented sidekicks Christopher Lewis, Lawrence Collerd, and Chris Ernest.

The Huskies will likely face second-seeded St. Patrick on their home court this Saturday (7 p.m.), but the Shamrocks shouldn't be too troublesome. St. Patrick is 18-4 with a couple of mediocre tournament successes this season. The Shamrocks won the Northside Prep tournament and placed second in the Holy Trinity tournament. Meanwhile the Huskies were facing some of the State's top teams at the Hoffman Estates Invitational, which they won, and the Best of Illinois tournament, where they finished a respectable fifth with a win over Sandburg.

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