By Mark Gregory | @Hear_The_Beard
The work dominant is defined as: Ruling, governing, or controlling; having or exerting authority or influence.
Or in the case of boys volleyball players in the Voyager Media coverage area, it could simply read: See Blake Reardon.
While the 21 schools in the Voyager Media coverage area have very talented, Division-I-bound players, Reardon’s dominance of the competition and the way he filled out a stat sheet even though he was his team’s only option most games makes the Joliet Catholic Academy senior the Voyager Media Boys Volleyball Player of the Year.
This season, Reardon posted 534 kills, 43 blocks and 38 service aces. His 534 kills rank him 12th all time in the IHSA record books for kills in a single season. Reardon’s 34 kills on April 14 against Downers Grove North ranks fifth all time for kills in a match.
For his career, Reardon has posted 1,552 kills, becoming the only player in IHSA history to amass 1,500 kills in a season. He passed Sean O’Malley of Oak Park-River Forest, who tallied 1,457 kills from 2002-05, for the top spot on the all time-list.
“I was never trying to get records,” said Reardon, who is headed to play collegiately at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. “I was just trying to win games. It is pretty cool, but I don’t really ever talk about it. It will be cool to tell my kids. In college, playing D-I, everyone will have records and have all these super cool things they have done.”
Reardon played this season on a Hilltopper team that featured three freshmen and two sophomores on the varsity roster – combined to equal the same number of seniors on the team.
“It was a long season, probably the longest season mentally. It was a lot of work,” he said. “We had a lot of kids that were first year playing and there were a lot of practices that I was helping out teaching technique and footwork and teaching them to hit more than working on my own hitting. I was trying to help set the team up for future years.
“We were playing schools that are three times the size of us. It is a lot different when I have 100 kids in my class and they have 1,000 in their class alone. You will find a few 6-foot-5, 6-6 or 6-7 kids out of 1,000, you don’t out of 100.”
Because of the team’s inexperience, Reardon got the majority of the attacks set his way, however, he also drew all of the attention of the opponent’s defense.
“Going into games where I know that they know I am going to get set is a lot is fun,” he said. “A lot of times they are games against my friends and it is fun to just beat up on them and I know I will get plenty of chances. It does get you really tired really fast, but I would do it all again. I have never been mad at someone setting me, that’s for sure.”
The rest of the Voyager Media All-Area team consists of:
Plainfield South senior had 178 kills, 100 blocks, 94 digs and 16 aces from his middle position.
“His dedication, positive attitude, leadership as my captain, athletic ability and respect for both his teammates and me as his coach is exemplary,” South coach Taryn Surbaugh said. He was the constant heart and soul of our team this season and he led the team with his work ethic and dedication. Rhome Apton is an irreplaceable athlete for our program.”
Minooka senior had the second highest kill total in the area with 378 to go along with 57 blocks and 48 aces. He was the SPC MVP.
“A powerful hitter who was one of our captains and led the team during an undefeated conference season,” Minooka coach Janel Grzetich said. “He was a four-year varsity member and will be attending Loyola University in the fall.”
A senior from Minooka, Beaudin was a middle hitter who racked up 222 kills, 99 blocks and 43 aces for the regional champs.
“A strong hitter and blocker who was also a captain,” Grzetich said.
The junior from Maine East was a strong middle hitter, racking up 266 kills with a .460 kill efficiency, to go along with 68 point blocks, 28 block assists and 21 aces.
“Michael led our team in kills, kill percentage, blocks and aces,” Maine East coach Jon Kulesza said. “He was voted to the Maine East Invite All-Tournament Team and the Central Suburban League All-Conference Team. He is one of the most intimidating and respected players I’ve had in 20 years of varsity coaching. He is a great teammate and his ceiling is high as he is only a junior. He is a two-year starter on varsity and has contributed to 45 wins in his career.”
Maine South senior outside notched 257 kills, 16 aces, 57 blocks and 217 digs for the sectional finalists.
Connolly helped Downers Grove South advance to the sectional championship before falling to the eventual state champs. He finished with 154 kills and 58 blocks.
“In our minds is one of the best MH’s around the area,” DGS coach Kurt Steuer said. “His foot speed to block is fast. He’s a big part of our offense. To our team he has meant having a quick, fast, good-sized attacker. Very coachable player and retains the information provided to him.”
A captain for Downers South, Hlavin had 210 kills and 45 blocks for the Mustangs.
“Jumps really well and puts up a very solid block at the right side,” Steuer said. “Offensively he does a very good job of swinging deep corners. He can attack well out of the OH and OPP positions. Being a captain, Charley has provided leadership through his play. Our players know he is some they can count on when the ball is set to him.”
Plainfield East senior outside had 200 kills, 70 aces and 25 blocks for the Bengals.
“Nick was our go-to attacker,” Alex Rodriguez said. “He played the front and back court very well and contributed to a lot of our success this season. Nick was selected as an All-Conference player for the SPC and will go on to play volleyball at Briar Cliff University.”
Downers North senior leader helped the Trojans win a regional championship. He finished the season with 241 kills (.233 kill efficiency) and 72 digs.
“Dan’s stats don’t necessarily jump out at you, however, he was the emotional leader of a team that finished 25-14 and he came up big during our state run with upset victories over St. Francis (14 kills, 7 digs) and Wheaton Warrenville South (9 kills, 4 digs),” DGN coach Mark Wasik said. “Dan was one of our captains and he set the tone day in and day out during practice and during matches. He was a workhorse that constantly pushed himself and his teammates. Consequently, he evolved into a six rotation player, became our L1, and became one of our most steady and reliable players.”
Senior libero from Benet dug up 398 ball for the Redwings.
Romeoville senior setter totaled 333 assists and 109 digs for the Spartans, where he was a two-year captain.
“He was the heart and soul of our team,” Romeoville coach Deb Fehrenbacher said. “He hustled for every ball and did not give up on anything.”
The Bolingbrook junior and Lewis University recruit had 193 kills, 27 aces and 45 blocks for the Raiders.
A sophomore from Lockport, Pfeiffer totaled 334 assists, 188 kills and 34 aces, while adding 115 digs and a .328 hitting percentage.
“He was a six-rotation player that was vital to our success and his numbers across the board are very impressive,” Lockport coach Nick Mraz said.
A senior from Plainfield North, Piekarski had 137 kills, 56 blocks and 26 aces from his middle position.
Plainfield Central senior and three-year varsity starter switched roles this year as he moved to an outside hitter for the Wildcats.
Junior from Maine South totaled 202 kills, 28 aces, 106 blocks and 72 digs in helping the Hawks advance to the sectional championship.
LUKE VAN ECK
Joliet West four-year varsity starter had 289 kills, 31 aces, 65 blocks and 117 digs in his senior campaign.
“Luke was an integral piece to our success over the past four seasons,” West coach Jason Hermann said.
JACKSON VAN EEKEREN
Hawaii recruit led Benet as a six-rotation setter this year. He amassed 786 assists, 198 digs, 76 kills, 65 blocks and 37 aces.
KYLER VAN ROSSUM O’CONNELL
Another four-year starter from Joliet West, Van Rossum O’Connell finished with 20 aces, 827 assists, 242 digs, 37 blocks and 72 kills.
“He was an emotional leader for us and ran the team very well from the setters position,” Hermann said. “Also was an integral piece to our success over the past four seasons.”
Scott Taylor contributed to story