The Oak Park and River Forest High School boys volleyball team, making its 18th appearance in the IHSA state finals, entered its quarterfinal match against Libertyville on June 3 at Hoffman Estates confident of an extended stay this year.
But the Huskies couldn’t maintain their strong start against the Wildcats, losing in three sets 25-17, 23-25, 15-25.
OPRF (25-9) led 10-9 in the first set, then erupted for a 7-2 run to take command. Sophomore Quinn Borzarth had a pair of kills and an assisted block during the spurt.
However, the Huskies never led again during the next two sets and were tied just twice in the third (1-1, 2-2) as Libertyville seized momentum and didn’t give it back.
“I think the big stage played a big factor,” he said. “We won the first set, and I thought we were feeling good. But the second set, I was like, ‘What is going on?’ The bench was trying to pump up the team, but they couldn’t hear anything. [Libertyville] fans were just too loud and discombobulated us in the last two sets.”
Patrick Akers had a match-high 12 kills, Oliver Sikora eight kills, Aleks Slesers seven kills and five digs, and Luis Correa 19 assists for Libertyville (22-15), who went on to finish fourth in the state finals, won by Glenbard West.
Borzarth had a strong match, leading OPRF with 11 kills.
“We realized that Quinn was playing with confidence and they were leaving him with one blocker,” Cousin said. “So we said we’d try to get him as many balls as we can. We made a bunch of errors and Libertyville made less as the game went on.”
Junior Ryan Montroy added seven kills, while senior A.J. Robateau had six kills and a block; senior Daniel Scholvin five kills, six digs, and an ace; junior Peter Zurawski four kills and 27 assists; and junior Daniel Moran 10 digs for the Huskies.
Robateau and Scholvin are two of four seniors departing, along with Camari Bolger and Kevin Bullens. But with Zurawski — one of the Chicago area’s top prospects in the Class of 2023 – and Borzarth, Montroy, Moran and Ebube Nwafor returning, OPRF should once again be a top team next spring.
“Even though we’re losing some major pieces in the middle of our offense, we still have a huge underclassman group,” Cousin said. “Next year, we’re going to be senior-heavy, but we’ve also got a ton of sophomores coming up that are going to be looking to make a difference.”