The Fenwick High School boys volleyball team fell to visiting Lane Tech 22-25, 13-25 on May 5 before bouncing back on May 6 by sweeping visiting DePaul Prep – 25-13, 25-9.
But like all spring sports teams, the Friars are happy to be back on the court after last season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s good to be back. It really sucked not to play last year, but I think [the pandemic] brought everyone together,” Fenwick senior Benjamin Groll said. “We’re a team that really hasn’t played together before, so we’re working hard to mesh.”
The first set against Lane Tech was a back-and-forth affair that ended with Lane Tech winning on an ace. The Friars (4-3) couldn’t keep up the strong play as the visitors jumped out to a 17-4 lead in the second set and coasted the rest of the way.
“We’re working our way up,” Whitman said of the Friars, who have just nine players on the varsity roster. “It was a tight and competitive first set. In the second set when [Lane Tech] got out to that big lead, some of it had to do with our errors. We had a mental breakdown and dug ourselves a hole that we couldn’t get out of.”
Against Lane Tech, sophomore Caleb Groll, Benjamin’s younger brother, led Fenwick with seven kills, two digs and a block. Lucas Gallagher added five kills, Benjamin Groll five assists and Aidan Butler four assists.
“It’s fun to watch brothers play together,” said Whitman of the Grolls. “They had nice games.”
But with such a small roster, the Friars have very little depth and almost no room for error. Whitman would like to see more consistency developed as the season progresses.
“We’re a young team,” she said. “My outside hitters, Aidan and Caleb, are sophomores. They’re still learning and are going to make mistakes, but I’m confident our senior leadership is going to step up and help the younger guys. Playing is how we’re going to get better, and we’ve got a long way to go.”
For his part, Benjamin Groll feels Fenwick needs each player to work on his mindset and become more resilient when things get tough.
“Volleyball is a mental game. When you start getting down on yourself, it’s going to bring everybody down,” he said. “We need to work on not beating ourselves up.”
On May 6, Fenwick swept DePaul Prep 25-13, 25-9. Butler had nine assists, Zach Hernandez added seven digs, and Gallagher and Caleb Groll each had four kills to pace the Friars.