Boys Volleyball: Confident, efficient Kopacz develops into a top-notch setter for Libertyville
Teddy Kopacz of the Cats makes a play at the net during Friday's match against Lake Forest. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 4, 2012 10:25AM
Libertyville High School senior setter Teddy Kopacz knows how to pick his mentors.
Kopacz was introduced to Mundelein High School graduate Ryan Sullivan at a Libertyville volleyball camp following his freshman year. Sullivan’s mom, Cindy, was a long-time assistant coach for the Wildcats, and she made the introduction. Sullivan led Mundelein during his senior year, and developed a reputation as a smart and athletic setter.
“We both really have a passion for the game, and have a lot of fun playing; we were able to connect well because of that,” Kopacz said. “He helped me with my decision-making process, how to establish your middles and move your hitters around to get into openings.”
Sullivan was a four-year starting setter for Indiana University’s club team, and Kopacz will be a Hoosier as well, with plans to play at the club level.
Kopacz said he’s processing the game much better in his second season as the Wildcats’ starting setter.
“It took me awhile to connect with a few hitters last year, but this season it’s a lot easier,” he said. “There are no jitters; I’ve been playing with these guys for so long that I don’t have to think about it.”
First-year Wildcats coach Casey Aubin said he has complete confidence in the way Kopacz runs the offense.
“In many ways, he has a coach’s mind for the game,” Aubin said. “It is amazing how little attention I have to pay to him in terms of his decisions about running the offense. He does a great job of getting all of our hitters opportunities and finding the best matchup to take advantage of. He’s the linchpin of the team and does a great job for us.”
Kopacz’ jump-float serve is accurate and forces opposing defense to make a clean pass.
“He’s efficient and serves the ball to the person we’re trying to attack,” Aubin said.
Big win: The Wildcats (18-7 through Sunday) have won several big matches this year, but their victory over Vernon Hills on April 18 may have been the most significant, as the Cougars had dispatched Libertyville in a tournament match a week earlier.
“I think it’s big any time you can beat a quality team like Vernon Hills,” Aubin said. “They went to State last year and returned two of the best hitters in the state. In practice, we focused on five or six things on our side of the net, and employed what we practiced.”
The victory was also significant because it demonstrated that the Wildcats can succeed even without Matt Tassler, who sustained a season-ending knee injury.
“This showed us that we can still compete with all the good teams in the area,” Aubin said.
Recap: The Wildcats were impressive in all phases of the game in a 25-17, 25-15 victory over Mundelein on April 25.
“We were able to key in on their two big hitters and pretty much shut them down,” Aubin said.
Stefan Vidovich and Rob St. Claire controlled play at the net. Their blocking was instrumental. Vidovich had a team-high eight kills, and Brandon Leatherwood contributed six kills and three blocks. St. Claire added four blocks. Stew Zacher had seven digs.
The Wildcats also won the consolation title at their own weekend invitational.
“We really wanted to win our own tournament,” Kopacz said.
The Wildcats lost to Carmel in pool play, and to eventual champion Lincoln-Way East in the tournament semifinals. Libertyville bounced back to close tourney play with a victory over Prospect.
Leatherwood (31 kills), Tyler Erlandson (26), Vidovich (24) and St. Claire (23) contributed to a balanced attack in the tournament. Kopacz finished with 123 assists. Zacher counted 45 digs.
On the schedule: The Wildcats will compete in the Glenbrook North Invitational on Saturday.