Oak Park and River Forest's Daniel Moran dives for a ball during a boys' volleyball sectional final versus St. Patrick May 31. The Huskies won 25-13, 25-13 to advance to the state quarterfinals on June 3. (Carol Dunning/Contributor)

The Oak Park and River Forest High School boys volleyball team’s goal against St. Patrick in the final of the IHSA Wolcott Sectional May 31 was to get off to a fast start.

“One thing we’ve been working on is our serving. We wanted to start off serving strong and maintain that focus throughout,” said OPRF coach Justin Cousin.

That’s exactly what happened as the Huskies, after giving up the first point of the match, went on an 8-0 run. That set the tone as OPRF won the sectional title 25-13, 25-13 to advance to the IHSA state quarterfinals June 3. The Huskies (25-8) will meet Libertyville at 11:30 a.m. at Hoffman Estates High School.

“We came in really good. We had energy,” said OPRF junior Peter Zurawski, who had 24 assists.

Zurawski and senior A.J. Robateau were a two-man wrecking crew with the former setting up the latter for several powerful kills, particularly during the second set.

“Since the beginning of the season, he tries to find me as much as possible,” said Robateau, who finished with a team-high nine kills

“We’ve been practicing together for so long and A.J. is my go-to hitter,” said Zurawski.

Cousin said he rested Robateau and Zurawski in spots during the regular season so that they would have as much energy and stamina as possible in the postseason. So far, it has paid dividends.

“We wanted to make sure we were peaking at the right time,” he said.

Robateau and Zurawski received plenty of help from their teammates. Quinn Bozarth had eight kills, Daniel Scholvin seven kills and Daniel Moran 19 digs.

The majority of this year’s Huskies’ were state quarterfinalists in 2021, and the team believes that experience will be beneficial this weekend.

“Last year was a good experience for me, because I know what it’s like to have that crowd,” Robateau said. “Usually the other team has more fans than we do, so we need to focus in and hype ourselves up.”

“This year we’ll be set up as a much better team and have a better chance of making it further in the playoffs,” Zurawski said.

OPRF, making its 17th appearance in the IHSA finals, seeks the program’s first state title. The Huskies’ best finishes came in 1992, 1993 and 1998 when they placed second.

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